24 May 2018
| Natalie Bannerman
As GlobeNet expands its subsea cable network into Argentina for the first time, Erick W Contag, GlobeNet’s executive chairman, talks to Capacity about the significance of the expansion and what’s next for the company.
Timing is everything. Aside from the number of unique
opportunities created by expanding its subsea cable network
into Argentina, favourable regulatory and governmental
conditions are among some of the reasons why GlobeNet chose to
add to its global footprint at this time.
The time is right
"The conditions for it were right at this time," says Erick
W Contag, executive chairman of GlobeNet. "The economy in
Argentina is growing, there’s a strong framework
in place and there is important investment being made in the
But he says the existing subsea footprint was "always going
to have a third leg". "Our existing 23,500 km subsea network
already connects the USA with Bermuda, Brazil, Colombia and
Venezuela. So, it made sense to add Argentina into our network,
furthering the work of digitally connecting all of Latin
It goes without saying that global data consumption is
growing at an ever-increasing rate meaning that demand for
greater capacity was also driving the need for improved
connectivity. According to the GlobeNet’s figures,
in 2016, roughly 79% of the residents of Argentina accessed the
Internet with predictions being made that by the year 2019 this
figure will reach 95%.
As a result of these numbers Contag says: "demand for
high-bandwidth, data-intensive services including cloud
computing and video streaming is outstripping the bandwidth
capacity of existing [subsea] systems."
Colombia is the next big thing
Only last year GlobeNet’s own CCO, Rodolfo
Lopez-Stanic described Colombia as the 'next big anchor
point’ in Latin America. In
Lopez-Stanic’s interview he said that Colombia is
to follow Brazil as next hub for wholesale investment in the
Speaking with Contag, it’s clear that not only
does he feel the same way as Lopez-Stanic, but that he sees
Argentina in a similar light.
"Argentina is where the Colombian market was back in say
2010," replies Contag. "Looking at the region Brazil is
naturally the central hub because of its scale and density of
people. Colombia follows Brazil because of its growing economy
and the ideal conditions created by the government to undertake
projects like this one. We have to remember the Colombia
actively sought out foreign investment in the
telecommunications space, which made it the next logical choice
and we see a similar thing happening in Argentina at the
moment, which makes this the perfect next step for us."
OTTs improve connectivity
On the topic of OTTs entering the subsea cable space, Contag
sees their influence as only a positive because of their need
to bring the internet to as many locations as possible. Ones
that otherwise wouldn’t have connectivity.
"Without OTTs a lot of the infrastructure we have
wouldn’t exist because they are willing to deploy
the infrastructure that perhaps would’ve been very
difficult to justify for a carrier," he explains. "Because of
the internet you have to democratise information and content
– many of the remote regions that these OTTs are
trying to reach because of that growing need for internet
connectivity, I doubt would have had it without it, and
I’m all for it."
As a company Contag says that GlobeNet "works and partners
very closely with all the major OTTs" adding that "GlobeNet has
always focused in developing and maintaining lasting
relationships with customers and partners". According to him in
the company’s 15 years of operation it has yet to
lose a key customer, a testament "to the management of the
company, the quality of our people, and the fact that we sit
down and listen to what our partners and customers really need
and that helps us tailor our network and the services we have
built," says Contag.
Data centre versus landing station
GlobeNet recently announced the opening of its new data
centre facility in Barranquilla, Colombia. The 200 sq m ICREA
Level IV and Green Seal for Sustainability certified facility
is adjacent to the GlobeNet cable station in Barranquilla and
highlights the growing number of submarine cable projects that
forgo the cable landing station for direct connection to the
data centre. But Contag says that there is need for both types
of connectivity depending on the traffic.
"This is why you need to understand traffic flows, explains
Contag. "To be more efficient, mainly the large OTTs have
designed their cables to optimise the routes between data
centres. Because they need multiple routes, if there is a cable
cut, they have 3 - 4 routes; so I do think – in the
aforementioned case – that it makes sense to connect a
subsea network directly into a data centre.
"But not all the traffic is data centre to data centre
traffic," elaborates Contag. "You have to think every carefully
about who are going to be the up takers of that traffic today
and 5-10 years down the line."
Speaking in reference to the aforementioned Argentina cable
expansion, he adds: "We mention that we land in Praia Grande
and extend into Sao Paulo, and we land in Las Toninas and
extend to Buenos Aires; and our system is architected
taking into consideration data centre (dc) to data centre type
of connectivity. But we also need to have the capability to
drop of capacity for the non dc-to-dc traffic."
Despite the slew of recent announcements Contag says that
there’s plenty more for GlobeNet in the near
future. Without giving away too much he hints at further
projects in the infrastructure space.
"We have a solid strategic plan that we’re
following, hence the types of announcements you’re
seeing. So we’re talking about things like subsea
and terrestrial expansions, network end-points, including
points of presence. And our data centre in Barranquilla should
give you an idea of the path we are taking."
In particular Contag says that the company is repurposing
its cable landing station in Fortaleza into a wide-scale
colocation facility in order satisfy the demand of the market,
as well as mentioning the launch of the "second largest
internet exchange point in Brazil after Sao Paulo" over the
Whatever move GlobeNet plans to make next, Contag summarises
it perfectly in saying: "we have grown and we will continue to
grow more or less along the same lines. In order for us as a
company to deliver the kind of services we are known for we
have to stay ahead of what’s happening in the
market, and we have to continue to update our
Erick W Contag,
Rodolfo Lopez Stanic,