In the era of digital transformation, Sparkle, a leading player in the submarine cable industry that boasts an extensive network spanning Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and the Americas, is at the forefront of powering digital infrastructure that is pivotal for advancing business growth. Telecom Review Asia connects with Enrico Maria Bagnasco, CEO of Sparkle, to learn how the company is addressing the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth and efficiency in its submarine cable network and staying focused on delivering resilience and diversification in its offerings.
Can you provide an overview of Sparkle's submarine cable network, spotlighting its role in powering seamless connectivity in today's interconnected world?
Sparkle is an established player in the submarine cable industry, with 167 PoPs and an advanced proprietary fiber network of over 600,000 km of fiber across Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and the Americas.
The first international service provider in Italy and among the top global operators, Sparkle offers a full range of infrastructure and global connectivity services — capacity, IP transit, SD-WAN, colocation, IoT connectivity, roaming and voice — designed to meet the fast-changing needs of national and international carriers, OTTs, ISPs, media/content providers and multinational enterprises, among others. Its global IP backbone, “Seabone,” ranks 4th worldwide and is the leader in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa and LATAM, according to information from CAIDA (Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis).
In these areas, Sparkle invests in cable systems and digital hubs to create new digital corridors, expand capacity and create new interconnection ecosystems.
All infrastructural investments implement state-of-the-art technologies and are designed to improve the performance and security of services offered to customers and ensure diversification. In addition, we are committed to developing the wholesale sector as a whole and minimizing the impact on the environment, in line with the new trends and regulations in the field.
As the demand for higher data capacities continues to rise, how does Sparkle advance the bandwidth and efficiency of its submarine cable network?
The past two decades have been characterized by an explosion of data, the internet and digital. In the next decade, traffic will continue to increase, and digital gravity will need to further distribute across the globe, heading increasingly South and East to better serve the new streams of emerging markets and users. The center of gravity of international infrastructures is therefore moving further south, which puts Italy at the center of data traffic routes that cross the Mediterranean.
In addition, the growing demand for bandwidth is accompanied by a growing need for resilient solutions, and we are working to offer not only speed but also reliability and diversification.
Our BlueMed submarine cable system is an example of this strategy.
Equipped with four fiber pairs (within a system of overall 20 FPs) and an initial design capacity between 25 and 30 Tbps per pair according to the segment span, BlueMed creates a digital highway between Europe and the Middle East and Africa and, as a future extension of the Raman Submarine Cable, South Asia, establishing a new reference in terms of diversification, scalability and latency on this route.
BlueMed will stretch from the Middle East to Europe, with its main trunk connecting Italy, France, Greece, Israel and Jordan, and with additional branches into Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, Cyprus and more in the future.
BlueMed introduces diversification in many crucial aspects: for the first time, an international system passes through the Strait of Messina rather than through the Sicilian Channel. In addition, the cable arrives in Genoa, whereas until now most cables from Asia ended up in Marseille. The final aspect of diversification is the corridor through Israel, which establishes a new route between the Red and the Mediterranean Seas, improving connectivity and fostering new perspectives.
The first segment connecting Milano, Genoa (where we have created a scalable multi-cable system landing platform) and Palermo is now in full operation, and we are now beginning to witness the outcomes of these efforts materialize.
Can you share the collaborative partnerships with other industry players that have aimed to enhance global connectivity and ensure future-proof submarine cable systems?
Today, much of the international traffic is handled by OTTs, such as Google and Meta, which are also building their own cables. Expensive and large-scale projects are hardly feasible at the present time for a single operator, and this leads to the proliferation of agreements between international carriers and OTTs.
In recent years, we have been collaborating with several industry players and with Google in particular; in May 2020, we worked out infrastructural asset synergies with them in Latam between the Atlantic and the Pacific submarine routes and more recently in Africa and the Med basin between Equiano and MedNautilus. However, with our flagship project, “Blue & Raman Submarine Cable System,” which will stretch from Italy to India along a diversified path, we have brought the collaboration with Google to the next level, building a cutting-edge intercontinental infrastructure in the strategic route between Asia, Middle East and Europe.
Moving forward, how will Sparkle continue to support business growth and accelerate digital transformation?
In addition to highly performing traditional and Software Defined (SD) connectivity services, security has become an integral component of our offerings to enterprises.
The increasing adoption of remote working and the growing migration of business applications to the cloud require corporate data, whether hosted in the cloud or in “on premise” systems, to be available to employees regardless of their location, at any time and in total security.
With our SD-WAN and SASE solutions, we enable flexible and secure access to the international corporate network, regardless of the physical location of the device or the connection used. Based on the Secure Access Service Edge concept, the solution applies a cloud-based approach to networking and security: the corporate network and its devices are protected from security threats directly at their sources of connection, or “edges,” rather than at their data center. As a result, remote workers, IoT devices, branch offices and applications are protected before their traffic reaches a multitude of destinations.
Our multivendor approach is paying off, with several enterprises in the food, manufacturing, fashion, energy and tourism sectors adopting our solutions.