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APTelecom: Connecting Nations with Major Trans-Pacific Cables PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 January 2019 08:33

APTelecom has become a global leader in fiber consulting services since its inception back in 2009, and is now recognized as being pioneer in submarine cable pre-sales with over $225m in client system pre-sales.

The phenomenal success of APTelecom can be largely attributed to the dynamic leadership and vision of its CEO and founder Eric Handa and his Co-founding partner Sean Bergin. Under his direction, the North American-based company, which specializes in emerging markets around the world, continues to grow year-on-year, and as a result is now involved in some the world’s largest submarine cable system projects.

Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with the Eric onsite at the Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit. In a forthright interview, the charismatic executive charted the company’s remarkable journey over the last 10 years, and highlighted how APTelecom was now involved in three major trans-pacific cable systems. In addition to this, he spoke about what differentiates the company from its competitors and outlined its plans for 2019.

APTelecom has enjoyed phenomenal success since its inception in 2009, and has become a major player in the ICT ecosystem. Can you tell us about your journey over the last decade?

My fellow co-founder Sean Bergin and I started the company in 2009, and it’s been a great journey. We’ve been able to secure $300m in off-take agreements and pre-sales to support new submarine cable systems around the world from Brazil to West Africa to New Zealand and Australia to the Western Seaboard of the United States and in-between. It’s been a great journey and we’re honored to have participated in so many great cable projects globally.

APTelecom is seen as a global leader in fiber consulting and you’re now serving 22 countries all over the world. However, is the Middle East a market that you’re trying to penetrate as you look to expand your operations?

We don’t have a direct presence here in the Middle East, but we’ve worked on some projects for a couple of our clients like SubCom. SubCom built the AE1 cable system and we’ve now been able to participate in other projects that are growing through the region such as MENA which was recently sold and we were involved in that sale. So it’s been a good journey and our expertise is global. Like you mentioned, we’re present in 22+ countries across the world. The Middle East is an important region for us as we look to expand in the future for another 10 years.

What is your most important and lucrative market, would it be in North America?

Our largest market would actually be Asia Pacific. We’re currently working on a non-stop system from Singapore to the West Coast. In addition to this, we’re also working on a system for Pacific Light from Hong Kong to LA. That is scheduled and ready to go to works next year. It is a large system sea plus technology-based system. We’ve also just been working with Hawaiki went RFS in late August/September of this year. So, we’ve got three trans-pacific systems which if you look at the tally in terms of capital expenditure is just over $1bn to build those systems. We’re involved in some really, really large projects that are connecting nations and connecting a lot of people to each other.

As we’ve already touched upon, AP Telecom has enjoyed huge success and is involved in some major projects globally. What do you think it is that differentiates AP Telecom from its competitors?

We try to focus in on relationships. In Asia, Europe or Africa, relationships are the driving force of any business and we often say to ourselves that there are two things that we look for. The first one is a hard side issue or a soft side issue, or is this something we can accomplish through a relationship approach or a transactional approach. We try to be more relationship-based. We may know the answer, but the way you frame and say it goes a long way, particularly in different parts of the world.

At the Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit, you participated in a panel that focused on Capacity and Data Traffic. From your perspective what were some of the most interesting insights and viewpoints that emerged from that discussion?

I’d say the three areas from APTelecom’s point of view that we took as key takeaways from the conference were in relation to smart cities. We were really able to learn about how the future was going to be shaped in the next 10-15 years and beyond. The second area was the ability to customize your solution to different areas, particularly in the Middle East and the GCC region, whether it is mobility services, or e-commerce. The last point was that there is a tremendous amount of interest in cloud computing. Cloud computing is a huge driver whether it’s the assurance cloud, or whether it’s network to service quality or automated networks that are going to drive the development of autonomous driving or M2M technology.

So, in summary, cloud computing was a huge, huge takeaway to learn so much from the hardware or the network or the software side of it and how cloud computing is going to drive that transformation.

ICT experts at almost every conference globally are predicting that 5G, AI and other emerging technologies are going to fundamentally transform industries. However, in your opinion, which one of these technologies do you think will be the biggest disruptor?

So 5G is the first network that is not purposely being built for humans. It is being built partially for mobility users, but it is really for machines and for networks. I’d say it’s probably going to be a hybrid model, some of it is going to be cloud-based, while another part is going to be point-to-point and latency-driven. Latency is what we talked about on some of the panel discussions, and the team at Etisalat had a great point about the importance of latency. If latency is too high, you can’t have autonomous driving cars because there are potential safety issues for passengers and others in the community. So, networks play a vital role in safety, security and growth in cities and countries all over the world.

What can we expect to see from APTelecom in the next twelve months?

What we primarily focus on at APTelecom is pre-sales and off-take agreements and that’s been our bread and butter or core competency. However, we do have a client that is trying to restructure distress capacity, because there is a glut of capacity in certain routes around the world. They won two awards here at the Telecom Review Leaders Summit, and that company is StrataNet. StrataNet’s model is very disruptive and they’re rolling up fragmented under-utilized or monetized assets and they’re really offering the market a different approach.

Suppliers get exit relief, and that basically means that they can get out of their OEM obligations and buyers get very strong aggressive disruptive pricing. So, it’s a way to address some of the inefficiencies in the market. So APTelecom is proud to be supporting them in their sales efforts in Asia, the United States and Europe and other places around the world, and it’s definitely a company I’d be saying to watch out for in the next 2-3 years.

You attend ICT conferences all over the world. But what is it about the Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit that differentiates it from other events?

The quality of the people at this summit is just fantastic. C-Level executives from the ICT industry globally attend every year, and the quality of the Telecom Review team is the key differentiating factors for me when compared to other events. The venue is phenomenal, it’s a beautiful place, and Dubai is an incredible place to visit and come to conduct business. We’re very honored and privileged to have the opportunity to come here, and we hope that next year we will be back for another edition of this summit.