9 March 2016
CAPACITY MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS CEO MICHAEL OURABAH
Our CEO Michael Ourabah talks to Alex Hawkes at Capacity Magazine about our ambitious plans to become the low latency provider of choice for financial institutions looking for access to emerging markets.
At 32 years of age, Michael Ourabah doesn’t fit the usual age demographic of a CEO in telecoms. Ourabah cofounded BSO when he was just 21 and still studying at the European Institute of Technology in Paris. Back then, his interest in telecoms was purely academic: “I just wanted to run and operate an internet backbone – that’s what drove me,” he says. “But along the way, I saw a gap between what clients were expecting and what they were being served by the telecoms companies.”
Over a decade later and BSO has built a name for itself as a specialist in low latency services for financial institutions. The company is something of an anomaly in the telecoms market in that it has tried to bring together low latency services with emerging markets.
SHOWING SOME BACKBONE
BSO set about growing its backbone significantly in 2015, bringing its total number of PoPs globally to over 70.
“We are really focussing on emerging markets, and being the telco that can bring enterprises from the established North American and European markets to emerging markets across Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America,” says Ourabah.
One of its more eye-catching moves last year was a partnership with Borsa Istanbul (BIST) and the launch of a PoP at Borsa Istanbul’s primary data center.
Borsa Istanbul is aiming to become a leading global exchange, not just amongst domestic investors and traders, but also in the broader international market.
One of its key objectives is to deliver world-class in-house exchange technology to enable strong links with other markets. “Borsa Istanbul’s accessibility – which brings together all of Turkey’s capital markets in a single location – and its commitment to high-frequency trading makes it highly attractive on a global scale,” says Ourabah.
The company also made opportunistic investments in metro networks in 2015. In October, it launched a direct network in Tokyo between three key financial data centers. The Tokyo Stock Exchange has moved from KVH Tokyo DC1 to @Tokyo, the consolidated Japan Exchange Group (JPX) facility that also includes the Osaka Securities Exchange. BSO will offer connectivity between these sites and Tokyo TY3, a major hub for FX trading in the city. The company’s dark fibre metro network service is said to have been designed for financial organisations interested in low-latency connectivity.
The move strengthened its position in Asia-Pacific, where it has PoPs in 16 data centers across the region, including Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mumbai, Johannesburg and Sydney.
This looks set to continue in 2016 as Ourabah outlined his expansion plans for the year: “We are going to keep pushing in Asia. In particular, we are looking at China. It is a challenging telecoms environment there, but we are trying to deepen our relationship with the three operators in China as it is a big market opportunity,” he says.
“We already serve Shanghai quite efficiently with lowest latency routes from Hong Kong and Tokyo – but we have requests for Beijing and Shenzhen and we will investigate that.”
IMPROVING CARRIER RELATIONS
Wholesale presently represents a small part of BSO’s revenues – between 5 to 7% – and today Ourabah sees Capacity Conferences and ITW as more of a relationship improvement platform.
“Our agility comes from buying IRUs on subsea or fiber. We don’t own these assets, so we have the ability to change, and the ability to mix and match subsea cables for latency,” he says.
With a number of consortium-back and private subsea cable projects in the pipeline over the next two years – many of which are targeting emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America – are these of great benefit to BSO’s business? “Yes, that is a big bonus for us. We are big buyers of subsea cables so more of them is amazing. It means options and more routes,” he says.
Ourabah says that the company insists on stricter contracts with carriers, as any changes on the backbone are critical to its business. “The technical solution is our value,” he adds.
“In a nutshell, we are positioning ourselves as the independent telco that provides global connectivity to the market. We believe we are one of the few carriers that still has autonomy and the ability to bring clients to the markets they want.”
Read the full interview at Capacity Media.