The ITW 2020 conference was held in June.  As to be expected, it was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  SubCableWorld was there and is presenting a series of reports on the presentations made during the event. 

This summary will cover the ITW 2020 panel discussion entitled “Connectivity in LATEM.”  The panel included:

  • Moderator: Melanie Mingas, Deputy Editor, Capacity Media
  • Gabriel Holgado, VP Global Account Division & Wholesale Services, CenturyLink
  • Gloria Palavicini, Deputy Sales Director, Neutral Networks
  • Andy Bax, COO, Seaborn
  • Carmine Sorrentino, EVP Regional Americas, Sparkle

Gloria Palavicini: “The needs and challenges regional connectivity for Latin America have changed with the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival.  It’s clear that the demand for connectivity has increased drastically.  The pandemic has affected all Latin American countries, but not in the same way, and it has required flexibility and regulatory certainty to reduce the pressure.  Things have changed and connectivity has never been as important as it is today.  I can’t imagine how we would have managed this situation 20 years ago.” 

Andy Bax: “We’ve seen in the past three-to-six months explosive growth just in terms of raw capacity to support all of the different services that are now fundamental to all the things we do day to day, including events like this.  Imagine holding a virtual event even five years ago.  To create and infrastructure and support and infrastructure that can enable an entire working environment to carry on across all kinds of different industries, whether it would be totally remote or partially remote, would have been inconceivable. 

It all requires connectivity.  The challenges around delivering that raw capacity were not tremendous.  We quickly moved to a remote and isolated working environment.  We worked with our partners, both network and equipment providers, to make sure that we could deliver that capacity as quickly as we needed, whilst maintaining a safe working environment. 

For our ISP customers, we’ve seen a 30-40% increase in IP traffic in just the last three months.  That’s true whether it was in large metropolitan areas like Sao Paulo or in much smaller regional areas around Brazil or throughout Latin America where we deliver services.  I think it’s demonstrated the importance of not just regional but local, domestic and international connectivity for enterprises, residential customers and carriers alike.  It’s been a challenge turning around services.” 

Carmine Sorrentino: “Italy was one of the first places impacted by the pandemic and Sparkle reacted quickly to deal with what we seeing in the network all over the world.  We are going to the new normal in Italy but in Latin America we know that we are in the center of the pandemic.  Besides the challenge from the increase in traffic, we also have seen challenges from the shifting of that traffic from enterprise to residential.  But we believe that we have met these challenges and now all of the Latin American countries in the center of the pandemic can enjoy good connectivity.” 

Gabriel Holgado: “This [COVID-19] is not an event that we could have anticipated.  The pandemic has not only impacted all of the service providers but also all of the businesses and all of the population.  All of a sudden, the network is the new trend.  All of a sudden, you hear people talking about the network.  People are conscious about the network and its ability to continue the continuity of their businesses and their daily lives. 

The challenge of managing traffic growth has been real.  Besides the growth in ISP traffic mentioned earlier, we’ve also seen CDN traffic grow at 70%.  That really demanded for all of us that we cope with increasing demand in services, not only from the size of the demand but also from the timing perspective.  We needed to work on special processes for turning up services within 24 hours for critical businesses.  That created a lot of challenges but at the end of the day the response has been really good for the whole industry.  When this began, our top priority was to our employees and then to our customers, suppliers and community.  In the end, the industry came together in a very good story to support our employees and to keep our customers’ networks up and running and meeting their changing demands.”