Along the sidelines of the 16th Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit, APTelecom executives, Eric Handa, CEO and co-founder, and Alex Chace, Managing Director of global operations, shed light on the company’s purpose, aspirations and partnerships.
Notably, during the Telecom Review Excellence Awards 2022, APTelecom was recognized for having the “Most Globally-Innovative SD-WAN Solution.”
Part of your role is directing multinational and foreign partnerships. What’s the importance of having partnerships, and how does APTelecom establish these globally?
Alex: As a foreign director for partnerships, I spent most of this year  in Asia proper, such as Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore, and I am now experiencing the Middle East in the UAE for the first time. Before APTelecom, I spent a lot of time traveling around Europe. I'm coming to understand — and put the pieces together — the UAE and GCC region being the digital hub for Europe and Asia, having an ultimate connection. Thus, the need for partnerships, working with all these different entities — governments and private-public corporations — is so critical. I'm very honored and privileged to be able to work with them.
How does APTelecom deliver on its purpose of developing connectivity in established and emerging global markets?
Eric: APTelecom’s primary focus is to bridge the digital divide. One of the ways that we do that is by offering advisory consultancy services to all our clients around the world. We operate in markets from the Middle East to Southeast Asia and LATAM. Some of our clients are governments, operators and private equity firms, but the main purpose of APTelecom is to enable connectivity in regions of the world that currently don’t have connectivity. We also help those regions that do have existing connectivity but [that is] becoming antiquated and aged out and might need to be ripped out and replaced for better connectivity, whether it’s subsea-based, terrestrial fiber or data centers. That's really where our emphasis is: providing business case analysis and providing agreements in the form of monetization services.
Which trends in the thriving digital economy will require more of APTelecom’s core offerings?
Alex: In terms of trends, the biggest is population. Countries like Vietnam and Saudi Arabia have very large populations that are skyrocketing, with the increasing use of Internet connectivity. For APTelecom, we see ourselves bridging the digital divide and connecting these countries with proper parties, suppliers and corporations to ultimately have the access that people need to work on and be educated. That is what we've been working on for the entirety of this year . I'm excited to see 2023 and how our efforts have and will play out to see people's connections continue.
What are the challenges of having resilient networks in a hyperconnected world? What are APTelecom’s initiatives in response to these?
Eric: Some of the recent challenges are macroeconomic — [the same] that other industries globally are experiencing. The biggest challenge that we see going into 2023, from APTelecom’s perspective, is the ability of operators to enable connectivity to cope with demand. We are seeing a bit of a slowdown with regards to new connectivity being built because of increased interest rates from inflation and the lack of availability of resources, whether at a factory or ship level, in order to deploy fiber-optic networks.
Due to inflation as well, the construction costs are higher than they’ve really been in the last decade, and there’s an increased cost of borrowing relative to debt-to-equity ratios.
What are APTelecom’s aspirations for 2023?
Eric: Our goals for 2023, as an organization, remain pretty much the same as they did in 2022, which is to keep the good going. We've grown through the pandemic exponentially. We went from a team of less than two or three people to over 20 persons located around the world. Our customer client base has continued to increase over the last three to four years, and we expect that trend to continue as we reach 2023. The biggest challenge for us is to make sure that we have the appropriate resources and people power to keep up with our clients’ demands and needs. Our vision and our goals remain the same: that our clients are paramount to what we do.