06 December 2017
| James Pearce
Marc Halbfinger sits down with Capacity to explain the reasons behind PCCW Global's recent acquisition of parts of Console Connect
It’s not a big secret that the wholesale
industry is facing major changes. The growing demand for data
services and higher bandwidths, coupled with an increased need
for agility, means the industry needs to develop more
intelligent ways of transferring capacity.
For PCCW Global, the international operating division of
Hong Kong telco HKT, its latest acquisition will give it an
opportunity to increase the depth of its capability around
software development and agile development.
That, according to PCCW Global CEO Marc Halbfinger, was part
of the thinking behind its acquisition in November of Console
Connect, which Halbfinger officially unveiled days later at the
MEF17 event in Florida.
The transaction involved two parts, with PCCW Global and HKT
acquiring Console Connect’s platform, its assets,
its intellectual property, as well as its technology team, led
by CTO Paul Gampe.
The rest of Console Connect, including its network assets
and customer contracts, were bought by Stephen Wilcox, the
former founder and owner of IX Reach, which was acquired by
Console Connect in 2015.
After making the official announcement, Halbfinger sat down
with Capacity to explain PCCW Global’s plans for
its part of Console Connect.
"The brand we feel is valuable. We acquired most the people
and they have associated themselves with the brand. The
development skillsets we acquired are quite deep, so
we’re quite pleased," he explains.
"Every network-based service provider needs to now increase
the depth of its capability around software development, agile
development to ensure services can be delivered to end users at
the retail level and wholesale level as efficiently as
So what was Console Connect? The "Cloud Connection Company"
was an enterprise software and interconnection company founded
in 2011 by Al Burgio. The company’s sophisticated,
highly-automated connectivity platform provided enterprises
direct access to an ecosystem of business-critical cloud
infrastructure providers and other enterprises with the click
of a button.
One key asset that is now owned by PCCW Global and HKT is
the Console Connect platform, which "provides a platform of
value from network to cloud", according to Halbfinger. For PCCW
Global, that could possibly be expanded further, Halbfinger
"We believe that can be expanded to go from network to
network, and perhaps cloud to network, depending on the retail
Another key consideration behind the deal was the technology
team at Console Connect, who joined PCCW Global as part of the
The team, still led by Gampe, was instrumental in developing
the Console Connect platform, and it was their experience and
perspective on "development and carrier
'softwarisation’" that will "help lead PCCW Global
to the next of evolution in the network", explains
"Until now in this industry we’ve had network
engineers and software developers doing applications," he adds.
"Now what we’re seeing at the core infrastructure
is the requirement for there to be software network engineers
– people who understand both the IT development side
as well as the physical layer. This Console Connect social
media is going to be quite valuable for this community
– it already is. All of this, we’ve
Halbfinger goes on to explain that Gampe’s team
is well versed in network orchestration and the software
elements that are becoming increasingly important for modern
wholesale and domestic networks.
"This is quite relevant as we announce it here at MEF, and
MEF is about assuring standards-based orchestration of services
from the software layer and the physical layer and for retail
distribution services as well as inter-carrier framework, which
has always been something that PCCW Global has excelled at the
wholesale carrier interconnect," he says.
"The acquisition positions our depth in agile development
for the delivery of services for today and for the next
generation. They [Gampe’s team] understand the
network and understand the software development elements that
are now becoming critical for any next-generation service
provider that wants to be delivering services network to cloud
in an on-demand basis. They excel in that space and
that’s the reason we made this acquisition."
The deal, which was brokered by the Bank Street Group, was
marketed as a joint acquisition between PCCW Global and its
parent company HKT. I ask Halbfinger about HKT’s
involvement in the acquisition.
"Console provides capabilities which are relevant to both
the domestic network and to the international network, but the
effort will be managed by PCCW Global," he says. "HKT was
involved because there was also an interest to see how the
development team would be able to provide application of value
to also the domestic infrastructure."
As mentioned, the deal will also see Console Connect split
up, with PCCW Global choosing not to acquire the whole
business. Instead, its network assets are set to become part of
a separate business that will be operated as an independent
global network platform under the name IX Reach.
So why did PCCW Global opt not to buy the whole thing?
Halbfinger says the reason is simple – PCCW Global
"does not need the physical network" because it has its own
advanced global network, with infrastructure across the
Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, according
to its website.
Halbfinger elaborates: "We already had a physical network
that was arguably more robust than the one we would have
acquired. We felt it was unnecessary to acquire a network we
felt we already had."
That meant the customers also moving to the new IX Reach.
"Because we didn’t want to take the network, we
didn’t take the customers. They are leveraging the
software platform but are sitting on the physical network, so
we understood there would be a process. We’ll
certainly try to find ways to collaborate."
I ask Halbfinger to sum up why this deal is important to
PCCW Global. He replies: "We’ve been providing
services to enterprise for many years. Our mission statement is
to provide global connectivity capability of voice, data, video
and applications to service providers, multinational
enterprises and to cloud. Here we are getting a network to
cloud capability that has currently been mostly delivered to
enterprises but it certainly also has wholesale
mergers and acquisitions,