Q&A with Juan Carlos Bernal ,CEO of Telefónica International Wholesale Services
The future of the network is digital says Telefónica's Bernal
What have been Telefónica’s key highlights and developments in Latin America over the past year?
During the past 12 months we have consolidated our wholesale business in Latin America to not only support traditional trading like voice and roaming, but to also offer our operator customers connectivity, platform services, digital solutions and professional services across the Latam region.
We are committed to continuously enhancing our international wholesale portfolio. In voice services we have been improving routing automation and fraud detection systems, and offering the widest coverage for ITFS and SIP Trunking in the region. At the same time, we have started to deploy VoLTE trials with those operators which require it.
Regarding carrier enterprise services we are moving towards SD-WAN services and cloud services bundled with our traditional connectivity services. We resell all the capabilities of our local operations in the region (access, equipment, colocation and professional services), and we are also a leading player in satellite. Our comprehensive portfolio of satellite services enables us to provide an all-around approach in terms of coverage and combined service solutions, allowing our customers to reach any location across the continent.
In the mobile arena we have developed Marketing Campaigns Manager, a solution that allows our customers to engage with their end-users in real-time both while roaming and in their home country. We also have the best worldwide IPX transport service which leverages our roaming and signalling services and extensive A2P/P2P coverage in the region.
In the last 2 years we have made considerable effort to put in place a suitable digital service portfolio for the wholesale market. As a result of that focus, we have achieved great success with IoT services, either coverage or coverage+service platform, and security services which are embedded in the connectivity.
Finally, we are going through a deep company transformation based on the automation and softwarisation of our infrastructure and services. This allows us to orchestrate services in a more dynamic, flexible and efficient way, and to improve all of our processes: pricing, ordering, provisioning, ticketing and billing.
What are your strategic priorities for Latin America in 2018?
Our focus is to further increase digitalisation across our business through the automation of processes and virtualisation of our platforms and services. This will help us to achieve our core objectives; to reimagine traditional services including building APIs, accelerate core revenues and evolve and promote our digital services offering.
Telefónica considers its network to be its greatest asset with connectivity at the heart of our business. However, the future of the network is digital. Today, we are making further investment as we evolve towards a flexible, programmable, software based and future-proof network. Our journey to become a true all IP network will also soon be a reality, enabling our organisation to transform its transport and core infrastructure in all geographies and improve communication capabilities for our customers.
Offering a fully virtualised network system enables our customers to extend their own infrastructure and products globally. In order to offer the best connectivity and the virtualisation of several services and network functions, such as vRAS, vRouter and vFirewall, we deployed 7 nodes (Network Functions Hubs) in the Americas, Europe and Asia during 2017 and continued investment in virtualization will remain an important focus in 2018.
Our Telco4Telco programme which is designed to empower our fellow telcos to leverage the opportunities of the digital world, continues to go from strength to strength. Given our strong position in the region through our operating businesses, Latam represents a huge opportunity as we share our experience and knowledge with other telcos. Following successful activities focusing on security, satellite cellular backhaul and roaming, IoT and Big Data will be priorities during the coming 12 months.
What are your expansion and development plans for 2018?
The major trends in Latin America are consistent with what we are seeing in the rest of the world, although the evolution can be slower in LATAM compared to Europe, USA and some Southeast Asian countries. It is true to say that overall demand is continuing to grown in the region… for bandwidth, services, content, information, flexibility and value.
International voice continues to evolve whilst data traffic is still on the increase thanks to ‘Roam like Home’ offers. Fortunately, Telefónica is in a privileged position as we have strong presence in both retail and wholesale markets which allows us to fully exploit this opportunity.
What new opportunities do you predict for the wholesale sector in Latin America over the next few years?
Technological innovation capabilities and the integration of new technologies like the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, cloud, security and other digital solutions is embedded in our core. Whilst digital transformation brings countless opportunities for wholesalers, the industry faces a challenge to manage the transition from traditional services and traditional sources of revenue to new digital ones.
Latin America is a diverse region in which in-market regulation and competition varies immensely. New players have entered different markets and local regulators have continued to assess national competitive landscapes. Recognising and preparing for this is critical.
We continue to invest in the region, in order to ensure that we meet the demands of our customers in terms of services, connectivity and customer experience.
What do you hope to achieve at Capacity Latam 2018?
Capacity LATAM is a key event for our international wholesale business. We are proud to return as the event’s Diamond Sponsor and see it as a great opportunity to reinforce our strong capabilities and presence in the region and to understand how we can continue to improve and provide our customers with innovative solutions in the wholesale market, in order to remain their trusted partner in the region.