Asia-centric with global outlook

Melissa Chua
17 May 2011

Best International Wholesale Carrier

NTT Communications Corp

Last year's winner:Hutchison Global Communications
Business segments:Tier-1 IP, managed services, data centers, co-location, hosting
President & CEO:Akira Arima
Key stats (March 31):8,350 employees; net income $741m

The international wholesale carrier industry is abuzz with the news of Level 3's proposed $3 billion buyout of rival Global Crossing. Players in the field are unsure of how this development will affect the industry, and the struggle for a wholesale carrier to set itself apart, in what many may view as a homogenous environment, is now more important than ever.

NTT Communications' strategy for differentiation has been to focus on Asia, a continent brimming with untapped potential. Asia's appetite for international traffic appears insatiable - positive news for carriers struggling to maintain quality in the wake of falling international bandwidth prices. "Keeping costs the same and increasing revenue is a key driver, hence scalability remains a crucial factor in the business," says Nick Wakai, VP of the company's global IP business.

Social media's popularity worldwide has clearly impacted the wholesale carrier business, says Katsumi Nakata, EVP of global strategy at NTT Communications. "Content providers are trying to change the power of the internet."

The business could change dramatically if the likes of Facebook and Twitter decide to locate cache servers in Asia, says Wakai. Traffic patterns could shift overnight and the company would be kept on its toes anticipating capacity demand changes caused by such a move.

The Tier-1 carrier's strength lies in its 2009 acquisition of Pacific Crossing, the owner of the PC-1 cable, a deal which enabled the company to enhance its trans-Pacific capability. The firm also strengthened its content distribution network this year and recently upgraded capacity on its trans-Pacific route to 490 Gbps.

With the majority of its customers located in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, NTT Communications sees trans-Pacific speed limitations as being the biggest challenge to overcome. "Traffic shifts easily on the trans-Pacific side, yet transmission on that route is limited to 10G," says Wakai. "We can get speeds of 40G or 100G on terrestrial cables, but the Pacific Ocean is too big, with the nearest point being around 8,800 km from the state of Washington to Japan. It's an issue concerning both technology and cost; the carriers are willing and it's time for the vendors to start. But who will make the first move?"

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