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Tue Mar 9 17:52:19 SAST 2010
Africa: Tata to capitalise on sea cable for growth in Africa
9 March 2010
Johannesburg — GLOBAL telecoms giant Tata Communications was set to increase its investments in Africa to capitalise on the arrival of new submarine data cables, CEO Srinath Narasimhan said last week.
Speaking to Business Day at Tata' s Global Media Summit in London, Narasimhan said the launch of the West African Cable System (WACS) - a high-speed communications cable running from SA to the UK that is expected to become operational next year - would lead to Tata "opening up more opportunities on the west coast of Africa".
The world's largest wholesale international voice carrier, Tata has hitherto made few significant investments on the continent beyond a 56% stake in SA' s fixed-line operator Neotel.
"There's not the infrastructure in place yet to deliver a full portfolio of services in west Africa," Narasimhan said. "But we will have that once the WACS cable comes into operation."
The company had already begun pursuing opportunities in Kenya and Tanzania following last year's launch of the Seacom cable, established by a consortium including Tata.
"We'll start with wholesale services, setting up a point of presence for IP (internet protocol), Ethernet or clear bandwidth, depending on what the customers want," Narasimhan said.
Angel Dobardziev, an analyst at consultancy Ovum, told the summit he expected voice traffic would still contribute 85% of telecoms revenue in Africa in 2014 - a higher proportion than in any other region.
But Narasimhan saw strong potential for growth in data and managed services .
The continuing dominance of voice services was "historical - due to not having enough connectivity. It's more a supply issue now, than one of demand - the demand is very much there."
Neotel was set to benefit from Tata 's drive to strengthen its managed services component, said Narasimhan - notably through the parent company's focus on telepresence, an advanced form of videoconferencing. The first service provider to launch public-room telepresence services, in July 2008, Tata operates 13 locations worldwide, including one at Neotel's Johannesburg headquarters. It expects to open 25 more this year.
Source : businessday
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