If Verizon's key international challenge - follow this link - is
to achieve worldwide recognition for a name that is hardly
known outside the US, Bill Archer should have a head start.
|Bill Archer: merging
He's president of AT&T's operations in Europe, the
Middle East and Africa, and he's already spent the last two
years re-establishing his company's brand across the area,
after a spell during which it was subsumed into an ill-fated
joint venture with BT called Concert.
But as from the beginning of this year AT&T is a
different animal. Indeed, the company seems to like calling it
the New AT&T, to signify the change. Because it's really
SBC - which had about the same international profile as Verizon
- following its merger with the old AT&T, the one Archer's
been working for.
Days after the merger was closed, SBC, under its new name,
announced details of plans to expand its network in the US and
around the world, a move particularly aimed at multinational
The interview took place before the most recent twist, an
agreed merger between the new AT&T and BellSouth, one of
the last remaining Baby Bells. That, if it goes ahead, will
create a yet larger AT&T - a New New AT&T.
The capital investment is expected to be $8 billion to $8.5
billion, said the New AT&T. "We're in the business of
working with large multinational companies, headquartered in
the US with worldwide operations or headquartered outside the
US and with a presence in the US," says Archer.
The network reaches 127 countries round the world, he says,
and "it is well integrated with the existing AT&T capacity
in the US". The new investment will extend into "new developing
economies in the Middle East" and "deepens the footprint in
Europe, Asia and Latin America", he adds.
In the US, AT&T's existing backbone is being merged with
SBC's network for business clients: "It's a merging and an
integration," says Archer.
The company is installing and commissioning new points of
presence in places such as Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,
Malaysia, India and Vietnam. "We're moving there because our
customers are telling us that's where we need to be." And it's
setting up peering connections with local operators at 16
points around the world.
Archer would not say how much of that $8 billion or so would
be spent outside the US. "We don't break capital spending out
discretely," he says. "But it's a fairly ambitious programme
The old AT&T had a clear programme to move to an all-IP
network. Former CTO Hossein Eslambolchi explained in an
interview with Global Telecoms Business in the
September/October 2003 issue his vision that "IP will eat
everything". He had a project called the Concept of One to
merge many, many network silos into a single system.
Eslambolchi left during the merger but the IP vision lives
on. "We will be moving customers to a consistent single
platform," says Archer. The first step is to bring the merged
networks to a common platform.
Is there a timetable to move to all-IP? "That's probably a
more complex answer that we can give in a few minutes," says
Archer. "It's a big part of the synergies" of the merger. "It's
happening as we speak. It's an enormous undertaking affecting
customers and providers."
Highlights of the 2006 planned expansion include:
"We feel now like we have the global scale and financial
resource of scope and capability to really capitalise on the
opportunity," says Archer, paying tribute to "SBC's financial
management skills and AT&T's portfolio".
extended dedicated MPLS-based IP access capabilities, giving
service nodes in 127 countries;
integration of 1,000 legacy SBC nodes into AT&T's global
new network interconnections giving greater in-depth country
additional remote access points giving a total of more than
35,000 access points in 150 countries;
doubling DSL country coverage for business access, via
alliance agreements with local carriers;
tripling ethernet country connectivity;
enhanced satellite, wifi and wireless access.
And did SBC need educating in the international marketplace
that it has to address now that it has acquired the old
AT&T and become the new AT&T? "No," smiles Archer.
"They acquired AT&T for the presence of large businesses
and by definition they are global."