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During the 25th Submarine Networks World, Telecom Review Asia interviewed Eric Handa, CEO of APTelecom, to learn more about its Vision 2025 business plan to support growing verticals as well as ambitions to bridge the digital divide in emerging markets.

APTelecom specializes in the subsea sector but has been expanding its services to benefit more verticals as part of the Vision 2025 business plan. Can you share with us some developments?

APTelecom started as a submarine cable specialist when it was first established about a decade ago, but we have since diversified our portfolio to include satellite and data center services. As part of this diversification, Vision 2025 enables us to pivot toward digital infrastructure consulting, with the subsea sector remaining our core competency, as we extend offerings to a wide range of verticals. This has led to strategic partnerships with organizations like Equinix.

Our team and client base have expanded as our offerings grow in terms of breadth and depth. For instance, APTelecom extends terrestrial connectivity – complementing subsea connectivity – to deliver power-converged connectivity. Already, many cable landing stations are also doubling as edge data centers. As many traditional ways of doing business are being transformed, APTelecom recognizes the need to pivot and better support businesses.

Earlier this year, APTelecom launched a new investment arm to spotlight edge data center opportunities. What is the motivation behind this?

From a technical and commercial perspective, proximity to the end user is driving the need for increased edge data centers. To cope with new demands, a typical data center needs to achieve a latency of 5-7 milliseconds to the end user – something that is not feasible from a connectivity standpoint from a single location to support applications including artificial intelligence and user-generated content.

APTProcure serves as the investment arm to capitalize on the growing need for more edge data centers to support emerging markets not just in Southeast Asia, but also in Africa and the Middle East, in the coming 5-7 years.

Can you tell us about some strategic partnerships forged and how APTelecom plays an integral part in bridging a digital divide?

We have forged many meaningful partnerships, including with Angola Cables in Africa, which has enabled us to provide connectivity for global hyperscalers to deliver modern technologies to otherwise neglected areas in the world.

Subject matter expertise and knowledge are critical building blocks to bridging a digital divide. APTelecom is able to bring both subject matter expertise and knowledge to the table to make a difference in underserved areas. Needless to say, capital is also required to provide much-needed financing. This is the impetus for establishing APTProcure, to provide opportunities to fund or finance projects requiring $4-5 million – projects often overlooked as they fall below a threshold of capital.

To APTelecom, emerging markets represent an opportunity to address a digital divide and bridge the “haves” and “have nots” from a connectivity standpoint. We see many commercial opportunities in emerging countries, where we are particularly keen to support their growth in the area of sustainability. We believe that existing climate concerns require more actions and executions than discussions, and emphasize the importance of bringing connectivity to areas in the world that can exploit sustainable and green power – an area that is close to our heart. Be it in western Europe, Africa or the Middle East, this is also a key area where we are working with clients to unearth sustainable, green power. We believe that future cables will be built and deployed to where power is green and readily available to support and grow more underserved areas.

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