Q&A: Michael Wheeler, executive vice president, global IP network, NTT Communications

14 March 2016 | Jason McGee-Abe

NTT Communications’ executive vice president, global IP network, Michael Wheeler, tells Capacity just how important the Latin American market is to the company and despite no official expansion plans, Argentina and Colombia have been highlighted in its corporate agenda as markets with opportunity.

What are your strategic priorities in Latin America for 2016?

Michael Wheeler - NTT
Michael Wheeler, executive vp, global IP network, NTT
The Latin American market is very important to NTT Communications. We have been working with regional Latam providers of internet services (ISPs), content (ICPs) and internet-based businesses for several years. Since establishing a Point-of-Presence (PoP) in Sao Paulo in 2011, NTT Com has been providing best in class connections to international markets through our Tier-1 Global IP Network. The Latin American market is among our highest strategic priorities as we are always evaluating expansions and new markets.

One market that’s really bumped up on our list is Argentina, with the country’s recent change in political situation meaning that more companies like ours are reassessing the possibility of expanding there, after considering the previous uncertain climate too risky. Another country that our company views in a positive light is Colombia. We certainly don’t have an official plan to move forward in our next market in Latin America yet; however, those two markets are just the best-equipped to support our kind of customer profile, and the underlying infrastructure is in the right place there as far as facilities, fibre access and subsea-cable access are concerned.

What have been the key developments for you in the region over the past 12 months?

We have seen consistent progress in the telecommunications sector across Latin America and we expect it to continue through 2016. There needs to be a concerted effort among governments, operators, regulatory entities, equipment manufacturers and other involved parties to maintain a stable environment that encourages investments, drives innovation and improves services for businesses and consumers.

There is an exponential growth in broadband access, fuelled by the continued modernisation of the infrastructure which in turn spurs increased demand. Not surprisingly Brazil, hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the upcoming Olympic Games, is experiencing much of this investment and growth, but Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Peru and other countries are seeing impressive industry-related growth as well.

What major trends do you see surfacing in the Latin American market this year?

We see Latin American countries making a concerted effort to expand access while simultaneously seeking to lower broadband costs. Other major trends include the growing concern for security, including the ability to mitigate DDoS attacks, the investment in software-enabled connectivity to support flexible and scalable networks in a fully automated SDN environment, and the coming transition to 100G technologies.

What are some of the challenges of operating in the Latam market?

The Latam market is unique in many respects; the individual countries' needs, economic conditions, infrastructure and regulations are varied and diverse - there is no unified market. And with the upcoming Olympic Games international carriers will once again be crucial in helping to meet Latam's connectivity needs, as they did during the World Cup in 2014. The Olympics is a high-profile international event that will generate large volumes of video content streamed out globally. The world will literally be watching so there can be no compromise in quality and reliability.

What do you hope to achieve by attending Capacity Latam 2016?

NTT Com hopes to share and learn at Capacity Latam 2016. We will be participating in the keynote panel "Laying the Foundation – Building the Necessary Steps to Encourage Future Investments in the Latin American Region” on Tuesday, March 15th, and we are proud to provide the global tier-1 carrier perspective on trends and challenges for the wholesale IP markets in the region.

We also look forward to meeting with current and potential customers to learn more about their needs and how our high capacity infrastructure, global reach, financial resources and industry expertise can help them meet their IP transit demands.