SEACOM has entered the African enterprise market with connectivity and Cloud services that bring business customers high bandwidth at competitive prices. The launch offerings include Fibre Internet Access with options ranging from 25Mbps up to 1Gbps.
Since a soft launch of its enterprise offering a year ago, the SEACOM Business division is signing up around 20 corporate and SME customers a month and has appointed 20 business partners to support its drive into a new market. The company also launched its Fibre Internet Access service in January 2015.
Unleashing the value of SEACOM for enterprise customers
Byron Clatterbuck, SEACOM’s CEO, says that this is the beginning of SEACOM’s plan to transform Africa’s business connectivity landscape: “In the past, SEACOM focused on bringing low-cost data transmission infrastructure to other service providers in Africa. However, we were not seeing the optimal take-up of our international capabilities in the marketplace and the benefits that this can bring.”
“We have the network, the skills and the capabilities to unleash the value of our international network directly to corporate users, and see huge benefit for businesses in doing so. We are pleased that the market agrees with us. Our challenge now is to deliver on customer orders and let people experience our incredible service.”
Grant Parker, Head of SEACOM Business, says that SEACOM aims to shake up the enterprise connectivity space by offering businesses high-speed connectivity and quality bandwidth at an affordable cost. The company is leveraging its abundant and scalable capacity on its undersea cable system and continent-wide IP-MPLS network as well as the capabilities of its Cloud services to enable businesses in South Africa and East Africa to smoothly transition to the Cloud.
Last-mile access that connects right into the SEACOM infrastructure
SEACOM launched the first broadband submarine cable system along the East African coastline linking South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique with major Internet connection hubs in Europe and Asia. Today, it offers a redundant connectivity ring around Africa’s east and west coasts, optimal traffic routing, and resiliency through multiple tier-1 upstream partners in Europe and Asia. It also offers direct connectivity to African routes and content.
SEACOM now delivers these services over last-mile access through leading connectivity partnerships in various regions.
Last-mile fibre is a major focus for SEACOM in the corporate market. Initially, the company aims to bring standard fibre to corporate customers in Kenya and South Africa. It has already launched 20 fibre precincts in South Africa and plans to roll out another 40 by the end of the year.
Parker, an industry veteran who has worked for the likes of Internet Solutions and Dimension Data, is leading the SEACOM enterprise push. “SEACOM started out as a wholesale provider of international bandwidth, but the time is right for us to diversify our business into the enterprise market with a set of focused offerings including last-mile fibre and private networks,” says Parker.
A lean and focused approach
Says Parker: “We will address some top-tier clients through a direct sales strategy, but our intention is to address most of the business market in partnership with leading service providers. Our operation will be lean and focused. There is a real hunger in the market for affordable, high quality fibre connectivity as well as for private and outsourced network solutions, and we’re well positioned to service this market with the assets we own and manage.”
SEACOM’s business offering includes the following:
· Internet Access provides customers with high-speed access to the Internet through multiple global tier 1 providers, a mesh of subsea and terrestrial routes as well as optimised routing to many key African operators, service providers and content delivery networks.
· Ethernet services offer dedicated, transparent, EoMPLS layer-2 virtual private networking (VPN) connectivity across SEACOM’s network and onwards through our international partner networks.
· Private Line Services give clients secure, dedicated, low-latency connectivity across multiple cable systems connecting Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as national to key interconnection points in Africa.
· Cloud services – Hosted mail, online backup, end-point protection, virtual hosting and other Cloud services provide customers with the ability to leverage the Cloud to improve business processes and reduce costs.
“Our first customers are pleased with the offerings we have brought to market, and we are getting many new business referrals from them,” says Parker. “We’re aiming to offer the South African corporate and SME markets a killer experience at the right cost, and in so doing, transform the market as we did when we launched our submarine cable system six years ago.”
Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”