Leasing made easy

For many telcos, the cost of buying network testing equipment can be prohibitive.

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Leasing made easy George Acris says operators can make significant savings by leasing equipment.
By  Nithyasree Trivikram Published  September 15, 2010

For many telcos, the cost of buying network testing equipment can be prohibitive. But Microlease, which rents and leases equipment for testing networks, thinks it has the answer.George Acris, the company’s head of business development, tells Nithyasree Trivikram about the advantages of equipment rental and the growing need for companies in the region to adopt the model.

COMMSMEA: Tell me about Microlease and its services.

George Acris: We have been in the market for over 30 years as a test and measurement equipment specialist, and we effectively provide equipment for companies through our tie-up with network equipment manufacturers. Our service allows companies to rent, lease and buy pre-owned and new equipment. We also offer a range of services, from calibration to full asset management. This enables very large organisations to benefit from our know-how of managing their equipment, thus increasing their efficiency as well as supporting them in gaining a competitive edge in the market.

Established in the UK, we are now shipping equipment to our customers globally. We help our customers lower their test equipment costs and improve efficiency, by matching the best network testing method with their equipment needs, which can be leased from one week to lifetime use. We also ensure that we provide them with quick and cost-effective services.

Our customers have access to about 4,000 different products from over 100 manufacturers including large players such as Tektronix and JDSU from the telecom market. Apart from these, we work closely with manufacturers to offer rental programmes for new equipment and we aim to be their preferred rental and management partners.

COMMSMEA: How is the market for these services in the Middle East and Africa?

George Acris: In the telecoms sector, equipment rental varies from handhelds, cable and base station testers, RF testing equipment, analysers and amplifiers, and we ship these products from Europe into the Middle East and Africa. Telecom companies in the Middle East use Microlease equipment mainly for network infrastructure needs, from 2G to 3G upgrades as well as network optimisation.

In the telecom industry, it tends to be more project-based, and the rental services will be for installation and commissioning within the time period, which typically ranges from nine months to a year.

It is very important that as and when a client’s project changes, the appropriate equipment is available, and hence it is important that we provide them with the required equipment irrespective of whether the contracting company is based in Europe or in the Middle East.

We work very closely with manufacturers on the calibration contracts. We have a good logistics system to move the equipment, and we also have local partnerships with manufacturers, the best people to maintain the equipment.

COMMSMEA: What projects do you carry out in this region?

George Acris: We work along with our partners here in the Middle East. We typically do the network installation of upgrades for companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Network. Our projects here are in places including Egypt, UAE, Ivory Coast, Somalia and Nigeria.

There are a lot of activities going on both in the mobile and fixed sectors in this region, with mobile broadband growing at 20% year on year, which calls for migration to be made directly onto the existing infrastructure. With companies such as Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei, which have an increasing number of operations in this region, they sub-contract their work to network equipment manufacturers, who in turn will source the equipment from us.

The UK, US and Germany are active in this area, but now the Middle East and Africa are also picking up.

COMMSMEA: Is there much awareness of this concept in the Middle East?

George Acris: In the Middle East, most companies are not aware that the equipment rental model exists. This ‘pay-to-use’ model is actually quite a young concept and there is a need to create awareness of it here.

Our visibility in the market is a key enabler for us to serve this market. Companies here, in the next three to five years, will be seeing an enormous need for constant use of equipment spanning multiple industries, so long-term lease is the perfect option.

COMMSMEA: What other trends do you see in the market, and what are Microlease’s plans for the future?

George Acris: What I see is a level of consolidation going on between operators that have specific take-up areas. Though mobile broadband is here, the market requires a bit more consolidation in the next six months to a year.

Our plans for the Middle East and Africa markets are two-fold. Firstly, we want to increase the awareness of Microlease locally, which I believe can be facilitated with some local presence. We will also be looking at dealing with operators directly in these markets. Currently, we are well-equipped to either supply our customers directly in the region, or from our list of network equipment manufacturers. Secondly, our partnership with network equipment manufacturers who have local offices here will effectively enable us to provide solutions through equipment leasing, which will help us in providing more support as well as expand the awareness of this concept in this market.

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