Sparkle, the international service arm of Telecom Italia Group and among the top 10 global operators, and Vodafone announced a new agreement to directly connect their respective SMS messaging hubs to maximize the quality of service for end users of person to person (P2P) and application to person (A2P) messaging.

According to this agreement, Vodafone will offer P2P and A2P SMS termination towards all its Group subsidiaries, while Sparkle will provide termination towards TIM Italy, TIM Brazil, Telecom Personal Argentina for P2P SMS messaging as well as termination for A2P SMS services to all mobile operators directly connected to Sparkle.

"As Sparkle we are always committed to guaranteeing high quality SMS services, Mobile Operator Network protection and traffic monetization and we are glad to continue our successful collaboration with Vodafone, to enhance quality of mobile services towards all our end users," said Alessandro Talotta, Chairman & CEO, Sparkle.

Vodafone Carrier Services, Chief Executive Officer, Brian Fitzpatrick added: "Quality of service to customers is at the heart of everything we do and this new agreement with Sparkle will help to ensure a high quality experience in our messaging services."

Sparkle the international services arm of Telecom Italia Group and among top 10 global operators, announces that Seabone, its worldwide Tier-1 IP Transit Service and Backbone marks its 20th anniversary since the beginning of its operations in 1996.

In these twenty years, Seabone's incredible success worldwide has been built on ensuring continuous growth in coverage and capillarity in order to always provide top quality and reliability, and through a highly skilled dedicated team. Mostly, its success has been driven by the numerous customers that in these twenty years have contributed to Seabone's growth and top positioning in the global ranking.

To celebrate this anniversary Sparkle has launched the "Seabone's Happy 20th Birthday" campaign, a can't-be-missed promotion directed to all ISPs currently not Seabone's customers.

To take advantage of this unbeatable offer, new customers must sign the contract not later than January 10th, 2017.

Seabone today ranks #1 in Latin America and in the Middle East, and #7 globally.

Sparkle announces that it will provide GÉANT with a 2,5 Gbps circuit from Marseille (France) to Annaba (Algeria), boosting the existing connectivity currently dedicated to Algeria's scientists, academics and students community. Sparkle has historically provided network solutions for GÉANT since 2002 to reinforce connectivity among education and research centers located in different countries including India, Tunisia, Malta, Morocco, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece. Currently Sparkle also provides GÉANT with 5Gbps connectivity to Brazil.

CERIST (Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information), the organization that manages Algeria's national Research & Education network, ARN, has been part of GÉANT's network since 2004. ARN currently interconnects over 800,000 users at 124 research and academic institutions across Algeria. Through its interconnection to GÉANT's pan-European network, ARN enables researchers, academics and students in Algeria to participate in world-class international research and educational activities in areas such as high-energy physics and earth observation.

Today Sparkle owns and operates one of the largest global and technologically advanced network of about 570.000 km of fiber. Sparkle's global backbone also leverages on an extensive ownership in the main international submarine cables connecting Europe with South-East Asia (e.g.: SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4, IMEWE and the upcoming SEA-ME-WE 5) as well as in consortia and bilateral submarine cables in the Mediterranean basin (e.g. to Malta, Tunisia, Libya, Israel, Turkey). Sparkle's open ecosystem and rich marketplace Sicily Hub in Palermo, located in the middle of the Mediterranean basin, reinforces Sparkle's strategic role in serving the growing capacity demand between Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

Sicily Hub provides lowest latency to customers located in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East than any other European peering point because of its geographical position and it is connected to all cable landing stations in Sicily.

In the Americas Sparkle manages a state-of the-art regional proprietary fiber optic network which is part of its global backbone and that connects Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and USA with the rest of the world. Sparkle is also the main investor in Seabras-1, the only submarine cable system to directly connect Sao Paulo, Brazil, to New York, USA, that will go in full operation by 2017.

Sparkle is Telecom Italia Group global operator and a leading international service provider, ranking among top 10 worldwide. Leveraging its state-of-the-art global backbone of around 570.000 km of fiber, TI Sparkle offers a full range of IP, data, cloud, data center, mobile data and voice solutions to service providers, multinationals and OTTs. It's creating new open and rich ecosystems and marketplaces to be able to respond to the more sophisticated demands of traditional and new players.

Telecom Review caught up with Alessandro Talotta, Telecom Italia Sparkle's chairman and chief executive officer, to discuss the Sicily Hub, latest partnerships and what's happening in the region.

Can you tell us more about the Sicily Hub that has recently been launched?
TI Sparkle's datacenter strategy has produced tremendous results in the last few years, making us one of the main datacenter and cloud players in the Mediterranean with next generation datacenters in Turkey, Greece and Italy. The recent opening of Sicily Hub, TI Sparkle's next generation datacenter in Palermo, is a turning point in the development of datacenters services and cloud solutions propositions offered by Sparkle to its customers in the Mediterranean, Africa and Middle East.

Inaugurated last March 30, Sicily Hub is rapidly becoming not only the leading IP gravity center in the Mediterranean basin but also an innovative, complete, rich ecosystem and market place of multi-breed interconnected players, including service providers, ISPs, content and media players and application providers.

Sicily Hub is served by TI Sparkle Global IP Transit service Seabone, and it is connected to all cable landing stations in Sicily. As it is located closer to North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Sicily Hub provides eyeballs in the area with the best possible internet experience due to reduced latency and lower risks of network outages than any other European peering point.

How does the partnership work with DE-CIX for the Sicily Hub?
A major milestone in the development of Sicily Hub into a major IP gravitational center in the Mediterranean has been the partnership with the world's leading internet exchange provider, DE-CIX, who has established an internet exchange (IX) in Sicily Hub.

DE-CIX provides premium IX services to all kinds of networks and operates numerous carrier-neutral and datacenter-neutral internet exchanges around the world, including its flagship exchange, DE-CIX Frankfurt.

The new exchange is be based on DE-CIX's leading APOLLON platform which provides unmatched scalability and performance.

DE-CIX's new exchange at Sicily Hub has been designed to allow carriers that land their IP backbones in Sicily to directly interconnect with each other and to other providers that have a presence in the facility. These other providers include some of the world's most well-known and largest content players.

The partnership with DE-CIX and their new IX node in Sicily Hub allows Sparkle to better serve ISPs in the area, including Africa and the Middle East, by bringing worldwide content directly to their doorsteps. The presence of DE-CIX's leading global carrier-neutral internet exchange as well as the most relevant global content providers that deliver media, gaming, e-commerce, social networks and video platforms, make Sicily Hub the best location for top-quality and cost-efficient public and private peering in the region.

This partnership between TI Sparkle and DE-CIX represents a first step towards a wider collaboration that extends to other locations in the Mediterranean. DE-CIX has recently announced a new IX exchange in Sparkle's next generation datacenter in Istanbul, Turkey. Global content will be made available in Turkey through public peering, a major turning point for the local and contiguous markets.

How will it affect the Middle East region and Africa?
As a result of the above, customers of Sicily Hub today benefit from:
- Increased Quality: Sicily Hub interconnections configuration saves 15 to 25 milliseconds in latency with an overall quality improvement from 50 percent to 80 percent for customers from Africa, Mediterranean and Middle East.

- Increased Reliability: Sicily Hub proximity to customers lowers impact of fiber breaks. Connection to all landing stations in Sicily makes recovery from cable failure faster and less expensive.

- Services Available at Sicily Hub:

Complete portfolio of cloud solutions

Colocation and related services

Meet Me Room where all customer equipment will be terminated

Public peering through DE-CIX

Private peering through the Meet Me Room

IP transit


Advanced connectivity services in a one-stop-shopping multivendor and multilayer environment

(L1/2/3 transport, IP, IPX,) typically available in European Telehouses

Backhaul to all Sicily cable landing stations (including but not limited to: SMW3, SMW4, SMW5, IMEWE, MED, bilateral cables)

Managed bandwidth services to main European hubs and beyond

Voice and mobile data services

What does Sparkle's Sicily Hub offer that other companies don't?
A full portfolio of cloud and datacenter services, the presence of the world's leading public peering platform and most important content providers globally, combined with landing of most important international submarine cable systems connecting Asia, Middle East and Africa to Europe, make this open ecosystem the best private and public peering hub on the Mediterranean, with reduced latency than any other European peering point. Sicily Hub is, therefore, a unique marketplace for customers in Africa and the Middle East.

Last year, you told Telecom Review that Sparkle believes that the model of "partnership among equals" allows it to maximize its investments efficiency. Can you tell me more about this model?
Partnerships are an important component of our expansion strategy "mix". Our focus on fast growing markets requires a local presence in these areas and we proceed with a combination of direct investment in infrastructure or partnership with local operators.

And we believe that a winning partnership model is the result of an equal contribution of assets and know-how by the two partners, and this is the model we have pursued recently in relevant markets in Africa and in the Middle East where we have successful collaborations in Tanzania, Ghana, Djibouti and Oman among others.

Are there any plans to partner with anyone in the region or any other expansion plans for Sparkle?
Partnership is a stable component in our approach to vertical and horizontal reach expansion. In 2016, we have an expansion plan that involves Africa, the Middle East and all of Sparkle's strategic areas like the Americas and Europe. We are focusing on regional infrastructural projects that will not only increase our global transport capabilities but also help the company move towards the higher end of the value chain.

The market is demanding operators like us to shift from transport to agile and on demand value added service providers. Technological transformation and infrastructural expansion are the two main leverages we are using to reach this goal. 

Digital Magazine

Dec 2016

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