Seacom Business launched this morning, offering connectivity and cloud services to the African enterprise market, along with its Fibre Internet Access at speeds ranging from 25Mbps to 1Gbps.
The company had a “soft launch” for the service a year ago, and has already signed up more than 20 corporate and SME customers a month, with about 20 business partners helping to drive the market. The Fibre Internet Access service was launched in January 2015.
Seacom CEO Byron Clatterbuck says that this is just the beginning of Seacom’s plan to transform Africa’s business connectivity landscape. “In the past, Seacom focused on bringing low-cost data transmission infrastructure to other service providers in Africa.  However, we were not seeing the optimal take-up of our international capabilities in the marketplace and the benefits that this can bring.
“We are no longer just the Seacom cable system,” he adds. The company either partners or utlises most of the submarine cables coming into Africa, he points out, and now runs Africa’s largest meshed IP network. In fact, Seacom is now Seacom’s leading international data network service provider.
“We have the network, the skills and the capabilities to unleash the value of our international network directly to corporate users, and see huge benefit for businesses in doing so,” Clatterbuck says. “We are pleased that the market agrees with us. Our challenge now is to deliver on customer orders and let people experience our incredible service.”
Grant Parker, head of Seacom Business, says the company aims to shake up the enterprise connectivity space by offering businesses high-speed connectivity and quality bandwidth at an affordable cost. The company is leveraging its abundant and scalable capacity on its undersea cable system and continent-wide IP-MPLS network as well as the capabilities of its cloud services to enable businesses in South Africa and East Africa to smoothly transition to the cloud.
“We have been rolling out fibre and will have deployed an additional 40 precincts by the end of the year, allowing people to connect fibre to fibre,” Parker says. “We have a faster, bigger and designed for speed network.
“We will continue to enhance the network to ensure our customers are protected, and derisking their businesses.”
Cloud and content providers work with Seacom Business to add value to users, he adds.
Not only is the Seacom service cost-effective, Parker believes uses will be impressed with its speed.
The go-to-market strategy is a mix of direct and indirect, with about 20% to 30% of the revenues coming from direct sales, and 70% to 80% through channel partners, Parker says.
Seacom launched the first broadband submarine cable system along the East African coastline linking South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique with major Internet connection hubs in Europe and Asia. Today, it offers a redundant connectivity ring around Africa’s east and west coasts, optimal traffic routing, and resiliency through multiple tier-1 upstream partners in Europe and Asia. It also offers direct connectivity to African routes and content.
The company now delivers these services over last-mile access through leading connectivity partnerships in various regions.
Last-mile fibre is a major focus for Seacom in the corporate market. Initially, the company aims to bring standard fibre to corporate customers in Kenya and South Africa.
“Seacom started out as a wholesale provider of international bandwidth, but the time is right for us to diversify our business into the enterprise market with a set of focused offerings including last-mile fibre and private networks,” says Parker.
Seacom’s business offering includes the following:
* Internet Access provides customers with high-speed access to the Internet through multiple global tier 1 providers, a mesh of subsea and terrestrial routes as well as optimised routing to many key African operators, service providers and content delivery networks.
* Ethernet services offer dedicated, transparent, EoMPLS layer-2 virtual private networking (VPN) connectivity across SEACOM’s network and onwards through our international partner networks.
* Private Line Services give clients secure, dedicated, low-latency connectivity across multiple cable systems connecting Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as national to key interconnection points in Africa.
* Cloud services – Hosted mail, online backup, end-point protection, virtual hosting and other Cloud services provide customers with the ability to leverage the cloud to improve business processes and reduce costs.
“Our first customers are pleased with the offerings we have brought to market, and we are getting many new business referrals from them,” says Parker. “We’re aiming to offer the South African corporate and SME markets a killer experience at the right cost, and in so doing, transform the market as we did when we launched our submarine cable system six years ago.”
Albie Bester, CEO of Seacom’s cloud service provider Pamoja, says the company has built on-continent cloud services available through channel partners and resellers – and the availability of Seacom Business connectivity gives Pamoja more scope to reach African companies.
“Cloud adoption over the last three or four years, it has been really tough in Africa,” he adds. “But things are definitely changing. In the last six months we have seen a three-fold increase in requests for cloud services.”
Key drivers for cloud are a desire for quality connectivity; while many of the fears around connected services are starting to recede.
Pamoja runs two cloud platforms in Africa, in South Africa and Kenya, and recently opened a second data centre in South Africa.
The fact that the data centres are on-continent and in-country eliminates many of the latency problems that customers experience when using European services, Bester says.
Pamoja offers a portfolio of cloud services that includes IT, productivity, security, business and other services.