Broadening broadband services

In a bid to strengthen the market reach and enhance its current offerings, DigitalSkys has deployed a VSAT networking hub to extend broadband services to EMEA nations.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  July 25, 2005

DigitalSkys, a specialist in global telecommunications, is using Dubai’s booming economy and business-friendly environment as a launching pad for its regional and global aspirations. The company has installed a 5IF broadband IP (internet protocol) VSAT (very small aperture terminal) networking hub from iDirect Technologies to grow its presence in other markets. “DigitalSkys relies on the delivery of wireless high-speed connectivity solutions tailored to specific applications and corporate communication requirements to provide a complete value-added business solution to its customers,” says Charles D’Alberto, CEO of DigitalSkys. The deployment will enable DigitalSkys to build an IP networking platform with services aimed at Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and Australia. “We believe there is a great need, particularly in this region, for these types of networking solutions. For a long time providers have been focused on selling connectivity, rather than solutions,” explains D’Alberto. The hub, which is based at the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA) teleport with direct links to London, has enhanced DigitalSkys’ current offerings. CYTA, the main provider of telecommunication services in Cyprus, operates an advanced telecommunications network across Europe. Offering a telecommunications services including fixed and mobile voice and data communications and value-added services such as broadband internet and digital TV, the company is also capitalising on its fibre optic network and teleport facilities to provide services in the international telecommunications market. When DigitalSkys announced the signing of a five-year agreement with the international division of CYTA, in May this year, the deal was heralded as a move that would assure the Dubai-based company's growth prospects by providing teleport services to support access to satellite networks with a global reach. Under the terms of the agreement between the two companies, CYTA now hosts DigitalSkys' VSAT hub at the Makarios Earth Station site in Cyprus, and provides direct links to NSS-6 and NSS-7 satellites with dedicated Ku band antennae. “The CYTA teleport is a well-established, well located, and technologically advanced facility that serves DigitalSkys and its clients well," says D’Alberto. The CYTA facility hosts a large number of earth station transmitters accessing a variety of regional and international satellites and offers fibre connectivity with international reach, including access to the global IP network. The initial service will be offered on NewSkies NSS6 and NSS7 satellites, allowing for true global coverage. Previously, the company’s systems were not offering optimal customer services and satisfaction, according to D’Alberto. “The solution has enabled clients to take advantage of solutions that were not previously available. The legacy system was unable to service clients’ needs, particularly when it comes to last mile applications delivery,” he says. Through this network deployment, DigitalSkys plans to initially serve the corporate, private and governmental sectors including oil and gas utilities, financial, security and defence, regional telecommunications companies and other enterprises requiring high quality bandwidth for running critical business applications. The objective of the deployment was to implement a global strategy to service corporate and smaller enterprises with solutions that were not previously available to them. DigitalSkys selected the iDirect solution in an attempt to meet its operational needs as it continues to grow its business. “We felt, after assessing the selection of offerings available, that this solution would best serve our total requirements, including our strategy of mobile, fixed and marine,” explains D’Alberto. Having taken six months to design and plan the new system, the installation process took only 30 days, enabling DigitalSkys to go live by the end of July. DigitalSkys managed the project in partnership with California-based Advanced Projects International. The company also teamed up with IP Access International (IPA), an independent provider of wireless voice, video and data, in order to combine the two networks, providing global coverage. “The whole network was designed, built and customised for the use with multiple satellites. Following such a rapid deployment, we expect to also achieve return-on-investment (ROI) within the first two years,” D’Alberto enthuses. Since the existing system services have been enhanced, as opposed to entirely replaced, DigitalSkys has been completing a straightforward migration of customer information. The movement of data from the legacy infrastructure is being carried out in a phased manner, without data cleansing, in preparation for the new services. The global locations are now networked via a common hub, utilising multiple satellites and spot beam technology. The DigitalSkys technical team is managing the solution in its 24/7/365 network operation centre (NOC). “The project required a high level of knowledge in understanding IP infrastructures, coupled with RF engineering knowledge. As always, there are some minor teething problems in implementing such a network, but no major issues were encountered,” says D’Alberto. The technical and sales staff at DigitalSkys have had to undergo training to familiarise themselves with the new platform. The implementation partner led a two-week intensive training course following the installation of the hub. DigitalSkys wants to ensure it has the appropriate skills to expand and maximise the benefits of the solution in the future because, as D’Alberto points out, “Our business model has been structured for organic growth with particular emphasis on the substantial demand for these services. We have over 25 years experience in the region that has put us in good stead to deal with the growing needs.” As a company focused on service, the improvements in efficiency were a key concern for DigitalSkys’ executives. The company has taken steps to ensure the benefits promised by the new solution are delivered upon by seeking the opinions of its existing customer base. “Initial feedback from our current customers show a substantial increase in efficiency and additional ability to implement applications that were not previously available,” D’Alberto enthuses. Further down the line, DigitalSkys expects its networking solution will combine high performance with worldwide availability, proving to be a reliable solution and delivering financial savings in the long term. In addition, the wireless communications provider hopes to benefit from increased revenue opportunities and a higher per-customer gross margin. “The applications that are designed to work with such a system will be implemented. Thus, customers will enjoy the ability to utilise their network and infrastructure for maximum efficiency.” In the future, DigitalSkys intends to leverage the implementation by installing further hubs that will assist it to deliver on its global strategy. In order to provide the next generation of technologies to its customers, and in line with its service driven approach, the organisation plans to expand and develop its networking equipment and IT infrastructure as it continues to expand its international reach, building the last-mile communications provisioning in the growing regions of Middle East, Africa, and the Asia sub-continent. “We see great opportunity in the EMEA markets. We greatly value customer focus and look forward to building on these important technologies,” D’Alberto concludes.

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