Planning partner

LCC International is a US-based telecoms consulting company that is benefiting from the growth of the sector in the region. Working with operators and infrastructure suppliers alike, Fabio d’Emilio LCC’s vice president of operations, EMEA shares his experiences in helping all constituents maximise the opportunities occurring in the changing telecoms environment.

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By  Administrator Published  December 31, 2006

CommsMEA: What is the background of LCC international, and what are its links to the Middle East region?

Fabio d’Emilio: LCC is an American company and we have been in the telecoms industry for 23 years. Our expertise comes from the fact that we were the first company to have and design tool, which is software that allows the design of a wireless network. After that our founder leveraged the knowledge that we acquired in helping operators design networks to become a consolidated consulting company. We have worked on more than 250 projects since the founding of the company, and today we have reached 800 employees worldwide. We operate in around 15 countries so we have a pretty wide footprint.

CommsMEA: In terms of network design services, where does a company like LCC fit in to the relationship already established between an operator and its supplier?

FD: We basically live very well with both operators and suppliers because sometimes we work with equipment vendors, so we have worked with the largest of them, and sometimes we work directly for the operator. We are tool agnostic in the sense that we do not have any specific tool that we want to use because we sold our tools business about 10 years ago. So we are very comfortable working both with the operators as well as the equipment vendors and we create synergies. For example, sometimes we work for operators as project managers to manage the entire roll out, and sometimes we just work for the equipment vendor where they actually ask us to do installation, commissioning of sites and so forth.

CommsMEA: In terms of your services, is there a limit to the nature of wireless networks that you offer advice on?

FD: We literally cover all technologies, we have done GSM, CDMA, 3G, TETRA, and iDEN, and these are the major known cellular types of technologies. We were the first ones to design a GSM network with Mannesmann, and we designed the first 3G network for a pilot test that was done in the Isle of Man in 2000. We also did one of the first trials for WiMAX in 2002, so our offerings are very broad.

CommsMEA: What are your operations in this region?

FD: We have been in and out of the region since 1991 but it was more for ad hoc opportunities. In the last three and a half years we are now actually focussing in the region in a consistent manner. Currently we have a very big project in Saudi where we are working with STC, and we are working in Northern Africa as well. In Africa we are doing deployment and consulting. We also continue to look around the region, we have worked in Qatar, Lebanon and Egypt, mainly on niche projects. For example in Lebanon we worked on the arbitration of the BOT, so we acted as technical advisers to the operator that was engaged in an arbitration negotiation with the government.

CommsMEA: Are there elements in the Middle East and Africa that stand out from other parts of the world?

Right now there’s a real surge in the deployment, the number of sites being rolled out, there is a surge in the number of licences being offered as markets are being deregulated and over the past two or three years this has occurred pretty quickly. So the activities that we are involved with are on the one side helping decision makers analyse prices for licences, and evaluating technical bids for everything that has to do with new operators; and on the other side we are working with existing operators in everything that has to do with deployment, integration and creation of new services. This brings us closer into the core side of the network rather than just staying in the radio side of the network.

CommsMEA: Which are the most interesting markets?

FD: We have already targeted the main markets that we want to be in – WiMAX is something that we have not yet done in the region but we definitely want to get into it and we are discussing this with major providers and looking at new licences as they come out in order to get into this business of WiMAX. Other things that are pretty interesting that we would like to support the operators are there is to become a seamless service provider. This is a very wide concept but it entails the fact that operators are moving towards the fourth generation network.

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