As the demand for internet bandwidth from almost any location expands, multinational organisations are under pressure to deliver core network infrastructures across multiple territories quickly, cost effectively, and with minimum operational impact to business.
The returns are high, though, with global audiences in business and consumer sectors offering new and rich potential sources of income, and those delivering the core infrastructures benefitting increasingly from deployment and support activities.
While existing optical networks are upgraded to facilitate 100Gbps, work in testing and deploying 500Gb-800Gb super channels has already begun. This means that carriers and network operators have issues to deal with when it comes to upgrading their networks quickly to deliver the best services.
Customers expect consistent service quality across multiple markets and territories, especially in industries where rapid data transmission can bring competitive advantages.
This is what operators and vendors consider when looking for partners to help them deploy, upgrade and maintain networks in Europe.
Using knowledge of its customer's network, an added-value partner will act as an extension of the operations team with the experience and credibility to offer a fully managed end-to-end service.
Operators are keen to work with one partner across a number of territories, rather than engage with multiple partners in different regions.
They want to know whether the partner has been successful on similar projects. They do not have the time or resources to wait while partners learn on the job, or want to risk working with an organisation that may not outlive the contract time frame.
References and case studies are useful here.
Operators know that no single supplier has universal network coverage, but the prospect of talking to a range of suppliers across multiple territories can make for a headache of international proportions.
A credible partner will have established third-party relationships and the infrastructure to support current networks and offer expansion when required.
Building a network that offers cross-Europe access is a complex process and fast implementation is often demanded. Often there is not the luxury of long lead times while engineering teams get up to speed in different regions.
Working with a partner already based in Europe saves more than just airfares. Operators want fast deployment to speed the transition from installation to revenue generation.
Delivering consistent, reliable service can be the stuff of nightmares when dealing with multiple cultures; knowledge of regional variations and how to manage their impact is paramount to meeting deadlines.
An experienced partner will understand the operator's milestones and SLA requirements throughout, and work on their behalf to achieve consistency across the network in all regions.
Having in-country teams to deliver in the field when there are network issues is a must-have. This is where the list of credible partners shrinks and the services provider must be selective.
There are few single-network partners that can offer engineering support within two hours to any given critical network point, but this is a vital component of operating a robust multinational communication network.
Operators are looking for proactive partners that can keep their networks up to speed and ahead of the game.
Most support required by operators tends to be reactive. Networks must be maintained regularly; this means that the capacity you think you have is actually ready to go live as soon as you throw the switch.
As global in-country networks converge through acquisition or consolidation, operators seek partners able to support the multi-vendor elements of modern networks.
The ability to maintain, upgrade and decommission equipment from multiple manufacturers across a number of regions has real appeal.
Operators working with partners with multi-vendor capabilities can cut downtime during decommissioning or outages. Such a partner can even bring additional revenue by offering responsible recycling options for redundant hardware.
Being a one-stop shop, offering geographic reach, and offering cross-border service reliability are the key criteria.
Behind this list is a set of complex and diverse capabilities requiring knowledge and skills around handling regional variations and cultures, hardware from multiple OEMs, ongoing maintenance, migration and decommissioning.
All faster than you can say "high-speed super-channels".
Pat O'Keeffe is group business development director at Indigo Telecom
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