Enabling the GIGAWorld

By Isabelle Paradis
President, HOT TELECOM
May 2017

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Ekrem is VP Wholesale at Liberty Global. He is now responsible for the strategy and delivery of national and international data and connectivity wholesale services for Liberty Global’s operations in Austria, Switzerland (CHAT), Germany and the CEE region.

Liberty Global is the world’s largest international TV and broadband company, with operations in more than 30 countries across Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. It connects 25 million customers who subscribe to over 50 million television, broadband internet and telephony services. It is also a major player when it comes to enterprise services, with fibre connections to more than 250,000 business sites.

With such reach, the opportunity to capitalize on Liberty Global’s extensive footprint to become one of Europe’s largest pan-regional wholesaler is colossal.

Ekrem shared his vision of the wholesale world from the cableco perspective with me, and it is very exciting.

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THE CABLECO REALITY

What are the key trends currently impacting the cableco world?
As is the case in the telecom industry, we are seeing continued consolidation of the cableco ecosystem. From hundreds of cable companies in most European countries, we are seeing a consolidation in many of the key markets down to 3-4 major players. Liberty Global has played a major role in this evolution through the acquisition of a number of cable companies across Europe over the last few years, our latest acquisition being Multimedia Polska in Poland, which - subject to regulatory approval - will significantly increase our scale in that country and have a positive impact on our wholesale footprint.

We are also seeing a growing number of cablecos moving into the content and multimedia side of the business. It is not sufficient any more to offer basic TV to be competitive. Cable companies are therefore now not only offering simple connectivity and TV signals into the households. Customers are expecting much more and cable companies are therefore developing valuable content and advanced features such as 7-day TV replay and OTT-type applications.

Finally, as by definition one of the cablecos’ differentiators is their high quality, scalable connectivity into the household using (Hybrid Fiber Coax) HFC technology, the next step for our industry will be to interconnect our customers using Gbit/s services. This will enable what we like to call at Liberty Global the GIGAWorld. GIGAWorld outlines our plan to bring Gigabit internet speeds to the 11 European countries in which it operates. Around 50 million homes in Europe have access to Liberty Global’s fibre-based “GIGAReady” networks, and we expect that millions more will be connected over the coming years.

THE CABLECO ADVANTAGE

Do cablecos have an advantage when it comes to competing in the wholesale segment?
By definition, cable operators control the most expensive part of the network: the fiber in the ground all the way to the retail and enterprise premises. In a world where everything is about connectivity at the lowest cost, provided almost in real-time, this is a significant advantage. In addition, due to how our networks are built, our fiber runs in separate ducts to the incumbent operator, which means we will be the perfect option if you are looking for redundancy. These two characteristics means we are partners of choice for other operators or wholesalers looking for high capillarity to efficiently reach the enterprise segments.

At Liberty Global for example, we have a very dense footprint with over 250,000 on-net fiber connected enterprise locations. This is invaluable in the day and age of hyper connectivity. Also, increasingly, what customers are looking for to build a proficient cost-effective core network are Optical wavelengths, Ethernet and Local Internet Access. We are one of the very few players in a position to deliver all the components of this connectivity equation end-to-end on a regional basis.

Finally, looking into the future, I think cablecos’ content DNA will be a big advantage. The majority of the data consumption comes from content of all sorts, and this will accelerate going forward.If we are able to position ourselves at the center of this evolution, both on the retail side and on the wholesale side (as an enabler of content), we will have a winning strategy.

Not many telecom operators have the necessary knowledge, experience and contacts in the content world. This will be a major differentiator for us in the future.

LIBERTY GLOBAL - WORKING AS ONE

What is Liberty Global’s strategy in the wholesale world?
Our main differentiator in the wholesale business is the fact that we can capitalize on our extensive on-net pan-regional reach. The Liberty Global Group operates in 11 European countries and the LiLAC Group operates in over 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, the LiLAC Group operates a sub-sea fiber network throughout the region in over 30 markets, which gives us a total direct on-net reach to 41 countries.

We plan to build on this core capability to offer leading edge connectivity services to both our Opcos as well as to a growing number of wholesale customers outside of the Liberty Global family.

Additionally, over the last year, a lot has happened at Liberty Global in terms of the wholesale organization. To start with, we have merged our local wholesale organizations into one unified wholesale organization throughout CHAT, Germany and CEE. This will enable us to create not only synergy, but more importantly, to offer end-to-end on-net connectivity on a pan-regional basis.

A similar process is also taking place within our voice wholesale group. So in essence, we are coming together as one.
Going forward, we will continue to capitalize on our differentiators and strengths, which include our reach, scale, cable operator quad-play competencies and local access to retail and enterprise customers.

Our strategy is to focus on what we know and what we are good at, to meet our customers’ future data and connectivity requirements. We will therefore continue to expand our portfolio of services to provide resilience, efficiency, scalability and reach at the highest quality possible. I strongly believe that this is a winning strategy for us going forward.


About the Author:

Isabelle Paradis

Isabelle Paradis, President of HOT TELECOM is an international telecoms expert, with over 23 years working experience in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

HOT TELECOM has been serving global operators, governments, equipment vendors and telecom investors for over 13 years, providing leading edge market research and consulting services to industry leaders around the globe.

For more information on our HOT INTERVIEWS program, please contact Isabelle Paradis at: paradis@hottelecom.com or at +1 514 270 1636