PCCW Global CEO, Marc Halbfinger

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Telecom Review Asia Pacific caught up with PCCW Global CEO, Marc Halbfinger at MWC 2016

Marc Halbfinger has been chief executive officer of PCCW-HKT subsidiary PCCW Global since July 2007 and is responsible for the integrated global communication solutions business at PCCW Global. Marc sat with Telecom Review Asia Pacific to update us on why MWC is such an important event to attend, and where PCCW Global stands in an industry that is shifting at an unprecedented velocity.

Why is Mobile World Congress such an important showcase for PCCW Global?
Networks today have become a shifting array of multiple environments. The fixed network environment, the mobile network environment and the cloud capable environment. All of these instances of network capable distribution used to be separate silos, but today the lines between them are becoming ever more distorted. An entity like us, which provides solutions to service providers and to content providers, needs to stay meaningful in all three of those instances. Thankfully, our team continues to deliver meaningful messages in fixed network, mobile network and in the cloud environment. As such, we see it as our mission to be present in environments such as MWC.

There has been a change in our industry; increase of data, a decline in voice and increase in cloud. For a company like PCCW Global, how do you deal with this shift?
Voice traffic at the retail level in Hong Kong has not been a major contributor to our business for some years, because domestically in Hong Kong voice services are provided at a fixed value per month. Frankly, voice has been treated by the Hong Kong domestic mobile networks almost as a free app for many years. Hong Kong is one of the only locations in the world operating in that fashion; this may be one of the reasons why Hong Kong can sometimes seem to be a step ahead of others in understanding the evolution of markets trends.

We view the competitive retail environment in Hong Kong as a laboratory for ICT development. If a service provider or content provider is looking to grow or change, Hong Kong is a great place to study the market. Hong Kong has always represented what is 'going to happen'. When something radical happens, such as a major technical shift, or a change in competitive activity, which has impacts on service providers, content providers, vendors and suppliers '“ it is often possible to see the ecosystem changes in Hong Kong before they happen elsewhere.

PCCW Global acts as the international operating arm of the domestic retail ICT provider in Hong Kong and this gives us the ability to act as a bridge between advanced retail development in Hong Kong and the evolving requirements of other service providers around the world. Our business has therefore been able to acclimatize efficiently and in a timely manner to market changes.

Our mix of services continues to shift toward large data requirements and we see the evolution being driven by continued bandwidth demand for core connectivity and the applications that ride upon that bandwidth.

Another example of Hong Kong being a leader in this domestic space was HKT's launch in Q3 2015 of 10 gigabit to the home over fiber.

How is PCCW Global involved with smart living?
HKT, our parent, has developed Smart Living domestically in Hong Kong. At the retail level big bandwidth enables all applications that can be delivered to an end user. Smart living is the Internet of Things.  HKT developed the name 'Smart Living' as a brand new service in 2012 before everyone started using the term IoT. PCCW Global acts as the international arm in delivering the message and the opportunity that has been created domestically in Hong Kong by HKT.