SP: For those not yet familiar with ELARA Comunicaciones, please provide a high level description of the company including origins, products / services, market segments addressed and countries where ELARA operates.
Villareal: Elara Comunicaciones is the leading provider of telecommunication and technology services in Mexico and Latin America, operating in countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru.
For the last two years the World Teleport Association (WTA) ranked us among the fastest growing teleports in the industry and also one of the top 20 independent teleports with highest income, at a global level.
We have a teleport established in Mexico, which began operations in the year 2004, having installed the first iDirect Hub in Latin America (LA). Elara has the largest iDirect network in Mexico and the second largest in LA, being the most experienced VSAT service provider in this region for the Enterprise market.
Since our beginning Elara has worked with various satellites, which enable us to provide coverage based on the needs of each one of our clients. We have more than 6,000 VSATs operating with corporate traffic transmission and reception (voice, data and video). We are ISO 9001:2008 certified, thus guaranteeing the standardization of our services and processes, making our operation more efficient.
Our team is recognized internationally:
– We have received for the second year the award “The Rising Star in VSAT “:
- 2014 – Automation and Development Coordinator, Rodrigo González
- 2013 – Operations Manager, Arturo Solares
– I was personally nominated as “Visionary Executive of the Year”, award granted at the event SATCON 2013.
Elara offers solutions in order to broaden the coverage of our clients in any location. Our technologies allow having an extension of the LAN network of our clients, regardless of their location. We continue expanding our solutions in the various vertical markets wherein ELARA has gained a great experience: Oil & Gas, Mining, Energy, Construction, Retail, Financial, Carriers and Maritime.
SP: Can you share with us information about ELARA´s hybrid infrastructure and network? Teleports, satellites, amount of capacity leased from operators and deployed VSATs across Latin America and in Mexico in particular?
Villareal: Our teleport is located in the southern part of Mexico City; our current plans are focused in getting the best location to build a second teleport, also in the central region of the country.
Elara works with more tan five satellites in order to offer broader coverage to our customers, as well as redundancy for their services. We use more than 200Mhz of capacity from different satellite operators like Hispasat, Intelsat, Eutelsat and SES with coverage in all LA region.
SP: As the leader of an enterprise-focused satellite service provider, what are your ideas or concerns around high throughput satellites (HTS) and how this shift could affect the markets where Latin American service providers like ELARA operate?
Villareal: I believe that it will take some time for HTS solutions to probe the niches and markets they best serve. In any case, we welcome these types of innovative solutions, which are required for satellite industry to keep expanding the markets it serves.
We do not consider these products as substitutes for our current operation, but as a complement of our service offering to our customers. The main concerns of customers is the performance of these new technologies, availability and coverage of HTS, which are the questions that the integrators like Elara can answer to continue providing turn key solutions with the best technology we can use to solve their requirements.
Without any doubt, Latin America is a major candidate for using these types of services and let satellite solutions gain more terrain in the overall telecomm services market.
SP: A transition to HTS for non-broadcast applications is highly anticipated as satellite operators deploy substantial HTS capacity that lowers the cost per bit of transport. What services and applications do you envision have best potential to more rapidly transition to HTS in Latin America and in Mexico? Residential broadband, enterprise VSAT, mobility, cellular backhaul?
Villareal: Up to this day, we need more details of the characteristics of the different HTS platforms and business models to determine the level of economic benefit and impact of these solutions in Latin America. However, since the most clear benefit will be reducing the cost per bit, we consider that the application services that will obtain the greatest advantage from this new product are cellular backhaul, enterprise backup and DRPs, which are requirements with more sensitivity to this cost factor and higher bandwidth demand.
SP: HTS is poised to have a particularly interesting play in Mexico for a number of converging reasons including telecom de-regulation, economic growth, digital-divide government programs and planned HTS supply. Being Mexico a market that ELARA knows very well, how do you think the satcom connectivity market will be affected by the incursion of US HTS players like Hughes and Viasat, given their commitments to deploy substantial HTS capacity over Mexico, Central America and Caribbean.
Villareal: Definitely the government initiatives for reducing the digital divide in LA represent a great potential to have the benefit of reducing the cost of bringing more bandwidth at a better cost to rural areas using HTS.
Like in the rest of the region, the social coverage and digital divide needs are so big in a country like Mexico that all the players will have room to help the government in their effort to efforts to reduce the number of populations lacking connectivity. It is unthinkable for a single service provider to solve this issue individually. In a country with so many economic and geographic variables, specialization by region is required in order to generate scale economies.
Despite the success of the Hughes and Viasat model in the US, we think the Latin American market can behave differently resulting from two variables: orography and end user’s income. Even when there are over 120 million inhabitants and more than 22% living in rural areas, per capita income is substantially lower than in the US, so even though there are connectivity needs in these rural areas, government subsidies and different economic and pricing models are required, which represents a challenge for service providers to adapt their model to Mexico and LA realities.
SP: Unlike the situation in other large Latin American countries, Mexico is not currently a sizable market for satellite backhaul, but do you believe that deregulation can have a synergetic connection with HTS to foster growth of satellite backhaul and enable new models such as backhaul offload or traffic overflow over HTS?
Villareal: It is right that Mexico conditions and incentives to use satellite backhaul to broaden mobile carriers’ coverage is different compared to other countries like Brazil and Peru.
Mexico’s total population is over 120million people, 22% of people live in rural areas of less than 2,500 inhabitants; there are more than 192 thousand communities in Mexico, approximately 68% of the population is concentrated in approximately one thousand cities and the remaining 32% (almost 38 million inhabitants) is distributed in more than 140 thousand communities.
Definitively the dispersion of these 34 million inhabitants directly affects the capability of providing connectivity services, a low-cost solution that may serve a reduced number of users is needed.
Elara hopes that HTS may be able to serve this market, because otherwise we cannot find a solution in the short/medium term to bring telecomm services to an important portion of these unserved areas.
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