Q&A: Michael Wheeler, NTT Communications – Wholesale success

18 November 2014 | Gareth Willmer

Capacity Asia day 1 – NTT Communications took the awards for best North American wholesale carrier and global wholesale data carrier at the Global Carrier Awards. Michael Wheeler, EVP and head of the global IP network business, explains the secrets of the company’s success in the wholesale arena.

What would you say are the company’s main recent achievements in the wholesale area?
The biggest things in my mind were the continued growth of the network and pursuing the market opportunities out there on a global level. We’ve added a couple of new markets in Asia in the last year, in Thailand and Indonesia. We had businesses in those markets but we didn’t have IP network PoPs there. In Indonesia, we added three buildings in the market at the same time, so it was a fairly big commitment on our part.

We’ve also grown a lot in Europe over the last several years and recently added Luxembourg as another new place. We did a 100-Gig-level deployment, which was the first time we deployed a PoP based upon that architecture and it’s been very successful. Frankly, it’s been one of our fastest-growing markets in the last six months.

What was the strategy behind the new Asian deployments and how successful have they been?
In the case of Indonesia, there wasn’t a building that was the only or primary carrier-neutral facility in Jakarta, so we had to assess the idea of going into multiple locations at the same time to make sure we had the best possible business case for the market. We’ve had a lot of success there in the last year and really couldn’t be happier with the traction we’ve caught. In Thailand, it’s only been about five months, so it’s going well but it’s still a little early to say it’s an unmitigated success.

What are the benefits of continuing to go into new markets?
One is that we can capture and serve new customers. The second is that we have customers buying services from us in other parts of the world who add markets to the set of places where we serve them. A good example is Brazil, where we launched our PoP about three years ago and it surprised us the amount of interest and growth we saw in that market from our existing customers in other parts of the world. Usually the main driver is who’s going to buy now in the market that we don’t currently have as customers, but in some of these cases we’re able to see a huge amount of traction from, for instance, US customers who want to have services in Brazil.

How has the expansion of NTT Communications in North America been progressing?
The predominant way we grow in North America is by adding buildings in markets that we’re already in. Last year we did quite a bit of that – we went into about a half-dozen new physical locations, but within markets we were already serving. The data centre space in North America just continues to get bigger and bigger and there’s new buildings and new additions to current deployments and services. It just isn’t stopping at all.

What do the awards for best North American wholesale carrier and global wholesale data carrier mean for the business?
Obviously it’s always fantastic to receive validation from a third party and a group of experts who know the business really well. You can get a little bit concerned if you just continue to drink your own Kool-Aid and always think that everything you do is fantastic, but it’s really nice to have. The whole team is really proud of being selected and it’s nice to have third-party endorsement of what we’ve been doing.