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As e& has been expanding in the Asia-Pacific region with a range of transformative initiatives and strategic partnerships, Dino Civitarese, Vice President at e& Carrier & Wholesale for the Asia & Pacific region (APAC), sits down with Telecom Review for an exclusive interview to share e&’s exceptional progress made in the wholesale business especially in the APAC region and their bold plans for the future.

Can you share insights on your journey in 2023 and what can we expect during 2024 and top priorities  fueling this impressive growth especially your focus of e& APAC?

In e&’s transition from a telco to a techco, we have maximised value across all our operations, and we have systematically expanded through organic means and acquisitions, driving strong performance and significant milestones and achievements till date. Today, the Group has 16 operating companies and over 167 million subscribers across its footprint.

We have taken massive strides in entering strategic partnerships for business growth. An example is our stake in Vodafone Group, which enables collaboration across a broad range of growth areas and drives benefits for both partners from our respective operational scale and complementary geographic footprint. These strategic moves are extending our reach into additional countries and ushering in a substantial influx of new subscribers, cementing our position as a prominent global player.

Our growth from the Middle East and Africa market into the wider Asia region began when in 2018, the Singaporean Government awarded us a facility-based operator license (FBO). The license allowed us to invest and build infrastructure for the domestic wholesale market and open opportunities for the international market. Through this infrastructure, we have been able to servecustomers in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, extending our reach to fast growing markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines.

Could you elaborate on the specific market segments you are focusing on in the APAC region and the corresponding services you offer?

As e&’s subsidiary in Asia Pacific, our Singapore office has been targeting market segments and offering the high-capacity next-gen technologies required to meet the growing demands of seamless connectivity and instant communication. With advanced technology and infrastructure, this region can benefit from deployment of cutting edge mobile networks such as 5G, high-speed broad band services and the latest in telecom infrastructure. We could contribute to the digital transformation of the APAC region by introducing innovative services and solutions. This may involve fostering partnerships with local businesses contributing to the culture of innovation in the region. Our network could leverage on the international presence and experience by enhancing global connectivity for businesses and individuals including improving international networks, offering seamless roaming services and facilitating cross-border communication. We are not only leveraging our local infrastructure that was built in Singapore but also the assets owned in the subsea cable systems,  which e& has invested in over the past 15 to 20 years. In addition, e& has capitalised on the market trend towards application-to-person (A2P) communications and included it in our product portfolio under our mobility services. Since its launch, we have experienced an impressive growth of over 400 per cent in SMS traffic.  Despite launching voice and cloud services just last year, we have witnessed substantial growth and a surge in demand from OTT providers and enterprise customers.  

Lastly, given the increasing demand for advanced digital infrastructure by OTTs, hyper-scalers, carriers and Content Deliver Networks (CDN), we have generated high interest in our data centre solutions. e&’s SmartHub data center, with its four facilities in UAE, is one of the most preferred ‘carrier neutral’ gateways and connectivity hubs in the region. Customers demanding access to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe region seek to place their edge nodes, caching servers in the SmartHub due to its high reliability and connected ecosystem.

We remain committed to our strong growth strategy and have detailed our intentions to expand SmartHub beyond the borders of the UAE and are are actively exploring opportunities to set up data centres in the region.

e& APAC operates in a diverse and dynamic landscape. How does the company stay ahead in both innovation and competitiveness?

To stay at the forefront of evolving communication trends, we have had a series of initiatives, projects, investments.

An example is the investment in the CPaaS applications and anti-fraud systems to enable us to offer services to customers that were not initially served by e&. In recent years, our strategic vision has revolved around elevating our service offerings to include SD-WAN and services on demand to address the connectivity needs of our end customers and expand our reach not only in the UAE, but also overseas.

Our Asia Pacific enterprise market has been growing in recent years with double digit CAGR, and we want to further solidify our position to be able to serve a wider range of clients and demands of this region.

In the techco industry, building and nurturing robust partnerships is paramount. Can you share instances of strategic collaborations and illustrate the role in e& Carrier & Wholesale success?

In the past 12 months, we have been helping to bring the e& outsourcing business model here in Asia. Operators may choose to focus on their core business as MNO or fixed network provider, and they would outsource services like voice, A2P to other companies. This is currently a growing trend in Asia Pacific.

Last year, we started working exclusively on managing the SMS traffic of one of the largest MNOs in the Philippines. This signifies that our networks are now the exclusive pathway for all SMS traffic from global operators n the country.

In July 2023, we also established a strategic partnership in Indonesia, the first of its kind in e& to deploy a Managed Voice Service solution. Any inbound and outbound voice traffic generated to and from our partner in Indonesia transits through our gateway and is managed by us. As the second-largest operator in Indonesia, with one of the biggest and most significant rising markets in Asia and the world, this venture is significant to us. It reinforces our commitment to forge key partnerships in high-growth markets.

The Asia-Pacific region is known for its cultural and market diversity. How does e& APAC tailor its services and strategies to address the unique needs of different countries within the region?

The Asia Pacific region has one of the most diverse cultures in the world, even in our industry. We always try to have a good mix of people, which we consider to be the most important assets of a company.

Second, we work closely with our customers, from Pakistan to Japan, to gain a comprehensive understanding about their needs and aiming to deliver based on their expectations. This not only enhances their satisfaction but also improves our long term relationships, which contributes to the overall mutual success. We also try to bring the Middle Eastern culture into Asia by creating a sort of corridor between e& OpCos in Middle East and Africa and our customers and partners in Asia Pacific.

We carefully study the markets and strategically establish our presence by providing innovative solutions that benefit our customers and the community. While we started from Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which have more synergies in terms of culture, contents, and business development targets, we are actively looking to expand in countries such as Vietnam and Hong Kong through partnerships or M&A.

The future of the APAC region is full of possibilities and as e&’s presence grows, we are ready to achieve even more extraordinary results for the benefit of all.

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