Upward and outward
09 May 2016Media coverage
When new chief executive Federico Protto and chairman Dario Pardi both joined in early 2015, Italian carrier Retelit had the two figures in place who would lead a comprehensive overhaul of its strategy: Pardi, formerly Vice President EMEA Global Markets at Hitachi Data Systems, provided knowhow of how the global IT business functioned, and Protto, most recently COO, Telecommunications Services at T-Systems International had an insider’s knowledge of the global carrier business.
A year on, that strategy has emerged. Retelit plans to leverage its fibre-optic network in Italy to grow its international wholesale business, and provide low-latency routes into Italy and beyond to Middle-East and Asia. To do this, it offers the promise of technical certification and excellence, and a focus on quality and agility.
The last eight years have been tough for carriers based in Europe, especially in Italy, a domestic market that suffered particularly from the financial crisis. But Protto claims that Retelit is ideally placed to take advantage of an upturn in European growth.
“The main driver for telecommunications purchasing in recent years has been price,” he says. But as the economic situation improves both outside and inside Italy, both end customers and carriers are increasingly looking at performance too, more and more driven new high-quality bandwidth-hungry applications. In Italy we're just beginning to see this but, based on our experience, we think this will be a driver of business in the coming years.”
Therefore “new Retelit” has invested in the sectors from which it believes growth will come. While many carriers are choosing to de-emphasise the wholesale business, Retelit has invested in the AAE-1 consortium, the first high-capacity and low-latency undersea cable in the world between the Mediterranean and Hong Kong. AAE-1 connects high-growth regions such as Singapore, India and Qatar with southern Europe. The cable will have an overall capacity of 40 Terabits and less latency than the current undersea cables between Asia and Europe - and it lands on the Italian mainland, in Bari, rather than in Sicily, to offer a terrestrial-only route from the landing site to Italy’s and Europe’s main cities.
With 19 consortium partners, the AAE-1 consortium provides both data connectivity and a deeper level of partnership with carriers in markets outside Europe.
“There are no other cables that can connect these two locations end-to-end,” Protto explains, “currently that demand is satisfied by the pieces of cables. And for us, the bilateral and multilateral agreements that we are signing based on our investment will dramatically increase our international capability.”
To help become the first choice for carriers who want to reach their customers in Italy, Retelit has two other advantages. The first is the nature of its domestic network, and the second is its in-house technical ability.
Retelit’s owned domestic fibre-optic network runs for more than 9,000km. It connects nine metropolitan networks and 18 data centers across Italy. “Why do we believe our network is better than others? Because our network in Italy is built on stage routes, and not highways,” Protto explains, “We offer the possibility to pass very close to the most populated areas in Italy and all major business locations. As a result there’s a small expense for the last mile, and the majority of the business centres are already connected with our fibre.”
Offering backhauling services from Bari to the main data centres and internet exchanges in Europe (it has POPs in Frankfurt and London), and 100 Gbps OTN technology, Retelit is convinced that market conditions are right to make an investment in technical skills profitable. Retelit the only Italian operator that complies with the new Carrier Ethernet 2.0 MEF Certified standards for E-Line, E-LAN and E-Access services.
PRetelit wants to use this technology focus to develop its services portfolio, whether that means fibre-optic ultra-broadband, cloud, VPN and co-location solutions in more than 16,000 square meters of secure equipped spaces, or outsourced data centre services, and even disaster recovery and business continuity. For other specialised services, Retelit will partner with technology providers: as Protto points out, cooperation in technical excellence is the way in which the IT business builds superior quality services.
“In Italy there is infrastructure, but the majority of it is not managed well,” Protto says. “That’s why, in this market, we believe this is a great need for an agile, technologically advanced operator like Retelit.”