Winning ways - <i>Capacity</i> magazine Awards 2011

01 December 2011 |

We exclusively reveal the winners of the seventh annual Capacity Awards. Alex Hawkes reports on all the action from Amsterdam at Capacity Europe 2011.

2011 has seen yet another year of fresh challenges and opportunities for the global wholesale telecoms industry. For every market that has contracted as a result of the ongoing global financial downturn, an emerging economy has presented new avenues of revenue. For every region crying out for connectivity to meet the spiralling demand for data, a fresh wave of new subsea cable consortiums or major upgrades has occurred. In short, the industry has managed to give every ‘cloud’ a silver lining.

Identifying the highs from the lows, the Capacity magazine Awards 2011 celebrated innovation, vision and excellence across the global and regional wholesale industry.

The winners of the 11 awards were carefully selected by the judging panel, which comprised the senior editorial team of Capacity magazine and a broad selection of telecoms analysts and industry experts.

Sponsored by DE-CIX, the awards ceremony was held at the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam during this year’s Capacity Europe event. With a record number of delegates present to watch the winners collect their awards, Andreas Sturm, head of business development at DE-CIX, said: “The awards are a sign of the effort and quality within the carrier community. They are good for competition and a sign for those which don’t win to put even more effort into customer satisfaction.”

Here we present the hard work and dedication behind the winning companies and their subsequent reactions.

Best pan-European Wholesale offering


Capping off a particularly successful year for the Scandinavian giant, this year’s hotly contested best pan-European wholesale offering award went to TeliaSonera. The award paid tribute to the company’s extensive and eclectic network reach, which covers mainstream European destinations, as well as lesser explored spots in eastern Europe, Russia and Asia.

Consulting editor of Capacity magazine Guy Matthews said the company’s role as the only Tier 1 European carrier with its own network in the US was “significant to its European customers as it gives them a high quality of reach across the Atlantic with only the one contract”.

TeliaSonera’s VP and head of sales for central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Brendan Ives, commented: “It’s a fantastic recognition for the hard work that has gone in from the team. We would like to thank Capacity for the recognition.

Best CEE wholesale offering


The award for best CEE wholesale offering went to the ever-industrious Pantel team. After being acquired by Turk Telekom in December 2010, Pantel has continued to develop its broad network between Turkey and the UK, most noticeably through a series of investments in the Balkans.

Yankee Group’s SVP Wally Swain believes Pantel is “a company which knows where its clients need to communicate and which has an eye on future growth”. In particular he highlighted the company’s “philosophy on customer experience management based on employee involvement”.

The award was collected by Pantel’s CEO Gregg Betz, who says the company has “remained focussed on giving our customers the best services in the region and making sure our geographic coverage covers the entire region with a standardised offering”.

Best Middle Eastern wholesale offering


2011 has been yet another busy year for the UAE-based carrier Etisalat and few would have been surprised to see the company go on to collect the award for best Middle Eastern wholesale offering. This year saw the company become one of the first operators in the UAE to launch LTE-FDD services, serving over 700 base stations and offering speeds of more than 100Mbps.

More recently, the company also launched its Smart Hub, which ambitiously aims to provide a ‘content ecosystem’ for the benefit of the company’s regional base of network operators and content developer customers.

Scott Sullivan, VP of strategy at Etisalat, said he was absolutely delighted to win the award: “This is the fourth year in a row we have won and it shows the resilience and the dedication of the people that work at Etisalat, as well as the reason why it is such an amazing time for telecoms in the Middle East."

Best African wholesale offering


2011 has been an absolutely pivotal year for the development of telecoms across Africa and somewhat fittingly, Gateway Communications was handed the award for this year’s best African wholesale offering. The South African-based operator has been rapidly extending its fibre-optic terrestrial route across Africa as it aims to unlock pent-up demand for connectivity across the continent.

Judge Wally Swain was quick to pay tribute to the company’s role in the African market: “Gateway Communications reminds us that satellite is still the workhorse of emerging markets telecoms. Without it, millions of Africans would not be connected at all to each other and to the world. The social goal of wholesale telecoms has to be making basic connectivity – including but not exclusively broadband internet – cheaper and more broadly available. That is Gateway Communications’ mission.”

After collecting the award, Mike van den Bergh, CEO of Gateway said he felt this was a tremendous achievement for the company. “It shows the commitment to Africa and specialising in Africa actually makes a difference so we are very pleased,” added van den Bergh.

Best Asian wholesale offering


Winning this year’s best Asian wholesale offering was Pacnet. The company has cleverly spent the year growing its already extensive infrastructure footprint, while strategically moving into the CDN space.

In April, the company revealed plans for a $120 million high-speed network between Chennai, India and the US in collaboration with bharti airtel. In mid-September it went on to launch its next-generation content delivery network, which aims to enable businesses in Asia to seamlessly deliver high-definition videos and graphics as well as software and web pages across the globe. John Hibbard, CEO of Hibbard Consulting, said that the company had shown a “great wholesale vision and service”. He went onto add that “Pacnet really has shown some leadership, as well as excellent use and deployment of its assets”.

On collecting the award, Pacnet’s MD of Europe, Middle East and South Asia/IRU business, Chris van Zinnicq Bergmann said: “This prize is recognition of all our efforts and the initiatives that we have deployed over the past couple of years. So it’s great to win this, we feel it is an acknowledgement of our strategy.”

Best North American wholesale offering


In what has been an eventful and at times controversial year for the US telecoms market, AT&T kept itself ahead of the competition by collecting the award for best North American wholesale offering. Although the company has been very publicly embroiled in a dispute over its proposed takeover of T-Mobile USA, it has continued to be exceptionally active in investing and upgrading its infrastructure as well as launching new services.

Our judging panel in particular were quick to point towards the company’s various Switched Ethernet products. “These have been terrific products, well used by wholesale carriers and rated as well admired by customers in our research,” commented Judy Reed Smith, CEO of Atlantic-ACM.

Renate Tiedeman, executive director at AT&T Wholesale said she was “honoured and flattered” to collect the prize.

Best Latin American wholesale offering


Following the completion of its acquisition of Global Crossing in October, it was clear to see why Level 3 was handed the award for this year’s best Latin American wholesale offering. The acquisition gave Level 3 an operating platform for medium to large enterprise, wholesale and content customers through a network spanning 165,000 fibre miles in intercity, metro and subsea links, across the US, Europe and - perhaps most significantly - Latin America.

“The company’s portfolio goes way beyond transport. Its enterprise portfolio is very wide and competes well with the rest of the big names. The company’s wholesale portfolio includes IP VPN, VoIP, Ethernet and colocation, going well beyond just raw connectivity. Growth is steady and they are expanding their data centre facilities quickly. They have a stable of high-profile customers. To me they are the best at this game in this region,” commented judge Wally Swain. On collecting the award, Derek Lister SVP of carrier sales at Level 3 proclaimed the prize a great achievement for the company.

Best Global wholesale offering


The much coveted best global wholesale offering went this year to Tata Communications. This year has seen the company continue to shrewdly invest in emerging markets. In particular, it has set about establishing a strong presence in Africa through its South African subsidiary Neotel.

Julian Rawle, managing partner at Pioneer Consulting reaffirms that Tata has an “impressive track record of investing in emerging markets”. He also singles out the company’s next-generation Ethernet and Provider Backbone Bridging as expanding “the capabilities of Ethernet” while its GRX/IPX Data Connect service “promotes interconnectivity for content provider”.

Tata’s VP of sales and buying in Europe, Francois Dulude, said the award shows how the company’s “significant investment in cable capacity over the last three to four years” is starting to “pay off”.

Best market innovation


2011 has been a big year for new market innovation across the wholesale telecoms sector and so Tinet/Neutral Tandem should feel particularly proud to take home the award for best market innovation. Neutral Tandem acquired Tinet in September of last year in a move that has more than proved its worth through the launch of a worldwide ‘EtherCloud’ in April. The Layer 2 platform allows partner networks to connect to an Ethernet cloud that delivers end-to-end Ethernet and VPLS connectivity.

Judge Julian Rawle said that Tinet/Neutral Tandem is now “playing a leading role in developing a global ethernet network with its ‘EtherCloud’ which can interconnect diverse networks”. John Hibbard added that Neutral Tandem/Tinet is “bringing a visionary approach” to the industry.

Collecting the award on behalf of the ‘EtherCloud’ team, Marisa Manzoni, sales director EMEA, Tinet said she was “very proud” and that the prize was “a big achievement” for the company.

Best niche/new player


With the Middle East economies recovering faster than most from the financial crisis and connectivity in the region continuing to rapidly increase, it is perhaps no surprise to see this year’s best niche/new player emerge from the region. Tawasul Telecom collected the award for its specialised approach to the Middle Eastern market, in which it is looking to establish a ‘one-stop shop’ for enterprises and international telcos looking for connectivity in the Middle East.

Judge Judy Reed Smith believes the company is on the right track, stating that Tawasul is “convincing data in its application, both in terms of statistics and from our research”.

Collecting the award, Tawasul’s CEO Hani Al-Shakhs said the award “meant a lot” to the company and that it pays tribute to its “speed of service”.

Judges Award


Finally, the judges award - which goes to the company or solution all eight judges agree should receive a special mention for their progress during the year - went to Deutsche Telekom ICSS for its WiFi Mobilise solution.

The company launched its WiFi Mobilise earlier this year, which is a new network services exchange for in-country and international roaming services designed to enable carriers to meet the accelerating demand from their customers for data services on smartphone and tablet devices.

“The integration of a global Wifi proposition into a carriers’ portfolio is a logical next step in the development of seamless data services,” said Angela Partington, editor of Capacity magazine.

On collecting the final award of the evening, Ab Egberink, director of Deutsche Telekom ICSS in the Netherlands said: “It’s a great appreciation for our team and our partnership with iPass.”

A word about the Capacity Awards sponsor

DE-CIX is the carrier neutral and independent owner of the DE-CIX International Internet Exchange in Frankfurt. The company also owns and operates regional internet exchanges in Hamburg and Munich. Founded in 1995, DE-CIX has established an environment for the bilateral settlement-free exchange of internet traffic between all types of ISPs, including broadband and content providers. Today DE-CIX has over 450 customers from more than 60 nations using peering to lower costs and increase IP performance and resilience.

The 2011 Capacity magazine awards were judged by a panel of telecoms analysts and industry experts, as well as the senior editorial team of Capacity magazine:

Angela Partington, editor, Capacity magazine

Guy Matthews, consulting editor, Capacity magazine

John Hibbard, CEO, Hibbard Consulting

Wally Swain, SVP, Yankee Group

John Krzwycki, partner, Analysys Mason

Judy Reed-Smith, CEO, Atlantic-ACM

Julian Rawle, managing partner, Pioneer Consulting

Robert Schult, research director, TeleGeography