Q&A: Leonardo Cerciello, TI Sparkle – TI Sparkles with new African PoPs

04 November 2014 |

Capacity Europe day 2 – In June 2014, Telecom Italia Sparkle launched a PoP in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in partnership with TTCL (Tanzania Telecoms Company). Capacity catches up with Leonardo Cerciello, VP of MEA and Asia-Pacific at the company, to discover some of the reasons behind the launch.

Why did you choose to launch a PoP in Tanzania?

The main reason for launching the PoP was to complement our own forces and our business, as well as develop the relationship with our partners in Tanzania. Sparkle is very international and although we are a big player in North Africa via our hub in Sicily, Italy, we have limited infrastructure in continental Africa. But TTCL – the incumbent operator in Tanzania – is rather the opposite. TTCL is a regional player with a very dense domestic operation and cross-border connections with eight neighbouring countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

Alongside the Tanzanian government, TTCL owns most of the optical fibre in the country, and has made a number of investments in this domestic network. So the combination of their geographical presence in Africa and our geographical presence globally makes a perfect combination. This way we have no competition and instead we are joining forces to create more business. When we partner we do not want to compete on local markets, but instead we want to join forces and build long-term relationships with our partners.

Was it easy to implement the PoP?
TTCL shares the same goal and attitude that we have. They have an entrepreneurial attitude which was very effective and important for us. When you work together with partners that share the same view of the business it makes it much easier and results are more effective, and that was very much the case with TTCL.

What services will the PoP be delivering?
The PoP will be providing IP, Mobile Data and Voice services. It will deliver IP connectivity solutions to telecoms operators, ISPs and service providers that are connected to Dar es Salaam through major international submarine as well as terrestrial cable systems.

We will also look to move towards advanced Ethernet MPLS services for enterprises wanting to send traffic from the region to the rest of the world and vice versa. What we are essentially doing is bringing European-quality internet and latency into the country. To that extend we will also soon introduce a Video Broadcasting services proposition , catering to the needs of both broadcasters and content providers, as well as telco operators.

How do you hope the PoP will develop in Tanzania?
Our main competitors will be cable operators, but many of them provide a single-leg solution. What we provide is a protected solution which is twofold. The PoP, combined with our international infrastructure, will configure itself as both an IP gateway and an IP exchange in east Africa. What that means is that the local operators can exchange traffic locally, saving milliseconds because they do not have to go via Europe every time they exchange data.

Are you looking to grow your presence in Africa via similar partnerships to this?
Absolutely yes. Business with Africa represents an ever-increasing portion of Sparkle’s overall revenue and it is very important for us.

Recently we have developed a similar partnership with Dolphin Telecom in Ghana. Considering the longstanding strategic partnership with Djibouti Telecom which we started four years ago, we can easily say that Sparkle is now a global leader of international data and voice services to and from Africa.

We are still analysing which other countries we might grow into at the moment but it is too early to disclose them.