One of the most interesting spaces of the last MWC in Barcelona has been the Spain Pavilion, in which almost fifty companies from our country have been able to show the world how they are transforming the world of mobility and telecommunications. One of the most interesting in this year’s edition has been Aire Networks, a company that has been in this space for more than 20 years and that for two years has begun an ambitious internationalization plan with which it wants to conquer the heart of Europe.
Regarding these plans and the offer that it is currently positioning on various fronts (fiber, cloud, CDN, Cybersecurity, etc.) we have had the opportunity to chat with Zigor GaubecaNetwork Director of a company from Alicante that in 2022 had a turnover of more than 130 million euros.
[MCPRO] Introduce us Aire Networks
[Zigor Gaubeca] Aire Networks is a company that was born in Alicante and has been dedicated to the world of telecommunications for more than 20 years. Our heart is the network and so far we have managed to deploy a network of more than 27,000 km. both in Spain and Portugal.
And this is important, because controlling the network is like controlling the roads of the highway: it allows us to control latency, capacities, etc. We also have quite a few data centers, which has allowed us to set up a layer of cloud services, offering unified communications, cybersecurity, etc.
And we base all of this on proximity data centers, bringing them closer to where our clients are and “fleeing” from cities like Madrid or Barcelona, which are where all the large data centers are currently being built. We are not going to compete with these big companies, but what we want is to bring our services a little closer to the cities, to the smallest industry.
[MCPRO] How do you market your fiber offer?
[Zigor Gaubeca] We always sell through our distribution channels. Our traditional channel is that of the local operator, which in turn sells to the end user. And then we have other channels specialized in small and medium-sized companies.
In total, we work with some four hundred partners in the telco channel, to which we have also added the computer channel, which is the one that offers cloud services, security, etc.
It is also important to highlight that in 2021 we acquired the Portuguese operator AR Telecom and integrated it into the group, also starting our internationalization strategy, also developing a whole range of high-quality unified communications and that I think is working very well for us. To this we would have to add the wholesale channel, both nationally and internationally, which is the one we are pushing the most at the moment.
All this at a time when what we are verifying is that Iberia is becoming a super communications hub thanks especially to the submarine cables that are reaching Barcelona, Lisbon, Bilbao… And yes, at the moment Marseille is as the great European entry point for submarine cables in the Mediterranean, but it is a sector that is diversifying and more and more are entering through Spain.
When that happens, an ecosystem of companies is created that wants to have access to lower latency, new land routes are created… and ultimately, more business opportunities.
[MCPRO] You were talking about proximity data centers before. What companies do you compete with in this field?
[Zigor Gaubeca] As I was telling you, we cannot compete with companies like Equinix or Interxion, which are concentrated in cities like Madrid and are mainly aimed at large companies.
We are more focused on companies that want to make the leap from having their services and servers in their facilities to having them in a data center. There they can demand that you have access, that the center be close to their locations… with many private cloud projects, which is what they are asking us for the most at the moment.
In fact, a few months ago we bought Stackscale to complete our offer with private cloud services. We are reaching customers with a service that is in that intermediate step before making the leap to the public cloud. And there we have clients who are contracting services of disaster recoveryof backup as a serviceetc.
But we also have public cloud services. We have a solution called Oasix, which is basically an OpenStack super orchestrator, so it allows us to offer a simpler solution with more visibility for our customers. Among other things, it also allows you to connect to other public cloud services and even bring workloads from other clouds to ours. We believe that with this service we offer clients more transparency in their position in the cloud and eliminate the hidden costs that some of the most popular providers have.
We have many clients who tell us in this sense that their costs in the public cloud are skyrocketing, that they want to repatriate certain workloads to their data center, to a cloud solution that has a contained cost. In this position we are offering, for example, connectors for the main cloud providers. We are connected with everyone and in all regions and that is what the network gives you.
[MCPRO] You have a presence in Portugal but your goals are to continue growing in Europe.
[Zigor Gaubeca] Europe is our focus. In fact, we have an investment fund, Ardian, whose objective is to help us grow in Europe, either by acquiring new companies or organically.
Last year we billed approximately 140 million euros and the goal in 4 or 5 years, thanks also to the expansion that we are planning, is to double that billing. We want a good part of that growth to go through the cloud sector, where we started a couple of years ago. And do it in a differential way, as OVHcloud may have done in France, for example.
We also have that message of the advantages that companies have when they opt for a European cloud provider. And I think it is a very important message that we have to be able to tell… or that, for example, we are part of Gaia-X.
[MCPRO] In a message that is arriving and that your customers are evaluating?
[Zigor Gaubeca] Clients begin to know what the American cloud act is and that if you are an American company, it does not matter if you are operating in Europe. If I ask you for the transfer details, you have to give them to me, no matter how much the European Parliament says. It is something that increasingly worries customers and it is true that there is beginning to be some awareness of all this, especially in the largest companies.
Large consultancies, for example, are increasingly opting to have an approach, a real proximity to their clients and not depend so much on traditional public clouds. And for that same reason, more and more companies are opting for the private cloud. The problem of the private cloud, of course, is that of connectivity. How do I connect to that data center? But there we are, who also have the network, we have a solution that we can offer.
[MCPRO] We have talked about your fiber offer, but you are also working in the wireless network sector…
[Zigor Gaubeca] In this field we are not deploying a mobile network or 5G, but we do have a virtual mobile operator solution and we also act as an “enabler”. That is, we can enable others to connect with other operators because we have the know-how to do it.
We have mobile-port systems, plus the entire pricing, measurement, fraud control system and everything, turnkey. We even have frequencies assigned for the private use of 5G in sectors such as industry and we are trying to position it in large companies, in deployments of thousands of IoT points, etc. which is where we think it makes sense.
And although it is a service that we believe makes sense, we are still finding barriers to entry in companies because they have not yet seen it, even in the largest ones. In use cases that actually make a lot more sense using a technology like this, that it’s much more secure, that it gives you very low latency, that a lot of service guarantees can apply…and considering how secure it is is the subscription to a network through a SIM card. It’s not like a key that can be hacked or a certificate that can be stolen. The SIM is one of the safest solutions, if not the most, with which you can count. For logistics services, for inventory management, for a lot of things… but a cultural change is necessary.
[MCPRO] To finish… what objectives do you set for this 2023?
[Zigor Gaubeca] First, consolidate our unified communications service. And then bring small businesses a cybersecurity product that is very easy to hire and use. That it can be done at the click of a mouse, capable of securing the network without the need to use any application and that it is offered through the cloud.
The client does not have to do anything. Just enter the platform, hire it and your connection is already secure because we take care of filtering your connection, your DNS through our servers, in the nearest CPD. We also find it interesting to enter the CDN market, where giants like Fastly, Akamai or Cloudfare compete… but we have the network, we have the latency and we believe that we can reach smaller companies with an attractive offer, such as eCommerce . In fact, we have clients who have already asked us for it.