The ‘people business’ expands beyond Canada’s borders

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Bell Canada’s Network 3.0 transformation is building both new infrastructure and strong customer relationships, VP Robin Constantin tells Alan Burkitt-Gray

Robin Constantin, Bell Canada

Robin Constantin: Bell coupled with the Q9 data centre
company gives us an industry-leading position

Bell Canada is transforming its network and has a handy name for the project: Network 3.0. It means, says Robin Constantin, vice president of sales for the company’s wholesale operations, that the company is actively pursuing the route to virtualisation.

“We need to accommodate a massive amount of bandwidth to meet the changing business needs, so virtualisation becomes critical to us. We’re transforming our network to deliver services in a software-defined environment, where the services are decoupled from the underlying technology. We have a very clear roadmap to get there.”

Data centres are a vital part of the transformation to a soft-ware-defined network. Features such as firewalls and customer premises equipment will be software-defined. Intelligence will move to the edge. At the same time, the edge of Bell’s network is expanding – not just across more of Canada, but across more of the world. Just north of the US, and conveniently placed between European and Asian markets, Canada’s geographic position gives Bell an unrivalled advantage.

The biggest telecoms operator in Canada, Bell is the leading player in Ontario and Québec, the country’s two most populous provinces, and in the four provinces of the Atlantic region. “Two years ago we completed the integration of Atlantic Canada’s Bell Aliant into our operations,” says Constantin, adding that Bell now offers broadband fibre and wireless network services across the country.

Bell Canada is now poised to expand in the western prov-ince of Manitoba through the acquisition of local operator Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS). The company agreed in May 2016 to acquire MTS in a transaction valued at C$3.9 billion, and announced a C$1 billion plan to upgrade broadband infrastructure across the province.

The company has also acquired data centre operator Q9 Networks, in which it had originally invested in 2012. “Combined with Q9 centres in Ontario and the western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, Bell’s network of 27 interconnected data centres is Canada’s largest and most capable.” It’s a comprehensive investment strategy, and doesn’t stop there. “We have a continued focus on leading Canada’s investment and innovation in next-generation networks. We are rapidly extending our footprint to bring fibre directly to the home and business.”

The reason? “With the exponential growth of video, connected devices and overall internet usage, there is insatiable demand in the marketplace for bandwidth,” says Constantin. “Bell is taking the steps required to meet the demand now and into the future.”

Bell has fibre networks that run the length of Canada, from Vancouver to Halifax, south into points of presence in the US, and – planned for 2017 – into London. The UK, that is, not London, Ontario. In the US, the company uses the BCE Nexxia brand – due to an ancient agreement over the rights to Alexander Graham Bell’s surname. “It is a wholly owned entity of Bell Canada with the same services, networks and resources,” he says. “We enable our US clients – carriers, cloud providers, data centre operators and others – to extend their reach into Canada.”

Diverse network routes

With the coming London point of presence, Bell is offering a direct route into Canada, without the need to go through the US. “Diverse network routes offer customers peace of mind, whether for security and privacy concerns or because of the potential impact of infrastructure concerns or even natural disasters. Hurricane Sandy, for example, impacted affected many customers across the New York region,” Constantin recalls.

“Bell is not just a connectivity pipe provider. We offer a variety of end-to-end communications solutions including data hosting, professional services and unmatched network connectivity supported by a team of more than 3,000 technical professionals. We help customers extend their network reach across Canada without the need to invest in their own infrastructure or local resources,” he says.

“We’re focused on how we can help customers evolve their overall communications capabilities. It’s not just selling the pipe. It goes beyond that. At the end of the day, Bell’s success is based on the relationships we build with our customers, the knowledge we have about their business, and how we can help them move forward. It’s a people business.”