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Founded in 2008, GBI is a global cloud, connectivity, and content enabler that owns and operates a smart and fully managed network. GBI’s multilayer terrestrial and subsea cable meshed network bridges the East to the West through the Middle East, empowers businesses, connects societies, and contributes to the region’s accelerated digital transformation. That said, Telecom Review had the chance to talk exclusively with GBI CEO, Cengiz Oztelcan, to shed light on GBI’s growing prominence in the region and globally.

As a global cloud, connectivity and content enabler, how was GBI able to support businesses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic?

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation timelines massively and it’s been our job at GBI to support businesses in this journey. In particular, the shift to remote working has shaken up industries across the globe. Enterprises now need access to the best-in-class solutions spanning on-premises and the cloud, and every corner of the decentralised network, must be underpinned by quality connectivity.

As part of this journey, there has been and continues to be a rising demand for more bandwidth, which coincides with a need for low latency and highly reliable connectivity. Indeed, according to the recently released Analysys Mason whitepaper, in the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the estimated number of individuals using the internet grew at a CAGR of 8% from 38 million in 2014 to 56 million in 2019, while in the same period, the use of international bandwidth increased at a CAGR of 46%. With users now requiring global networks to support mission critical tasks and an ever-more diverse range of use cases, GBI is dedicated to ensuring the most direct route between endpoints to provide lower latency and optimised connectivity.

Subsea cables are the backbone of modern communications and are of vital importance to economics across the world. Responsible for carrying the majority of the world’s data and voice transmissions, there are more than 390 in operation globally. GBI’s Smart Network, a multilayer terrestrial and subsea cable meshed network, has been crucial in helping support businesses throughout the pandemic. Moreover, GBI’s unique geographical positioning in the Middle East is ideal to bridge the East to the West and the North to the South, meaning we can support enterprises in the region and beyond. We’re incredibly proud to be a global network provider connecting people, communities, and businesses.

GBI has been very active in terms of partnerships as of late, with partnerships like Equinix and Versa Networks. Can you address the new deployment for GBI at the Equinix data center in Oman? Also, what are GBI’s plans for partnerships and how important are they to the company’s future?

At GBI, we understand partnerships are one of the key factors that contribute to our future growth. Collaboration opens the door to better interconnected regions that benefit end-users, carriers, and enterprises alike. GBI is a carrier’s carrier and is dedicated to the success of our partners and their customers. Carriers are the backbone of any nation’s digital economy, which is why we take our role in supporting these carriers seriously and recognise we are an integral player on each of their journeys.

In terms of our partnership with Equinix, we’re really excited to be expanding collaboration and establishing a new deployment for GBI at the Equinix datacentre in Oman. GBI has been connected to Equinix datacentres in Amsterdam and Frankfurt since 2015 and this is taking our partnership to the next level. As we know, due to the pandemic, users are demanding more content and a superior digital experience more than ever before. Moreover, we have seen the rise of new innovative technologies such as edge networks, and GBI along with its partners are working hard to ensure this is a success in the region and beyond. GBI and Equinix are fully prepared for future innovation as the next wave of digital transformation gathers momentum. Together we are fully committed to serving our Gulf and Middle Eastern customers.

The telecommunication industry is a large space in which many different technologies converge to meet complex customer requirements. As a result, we have seen many businesses collaborate, and in the future, GBI plans on doing the same by partnering with satellite businesses to meet complex market demands and expand our capabilities.

What goals were you able to achieve this year and what goals have you set for 2022?

The dedication of our network operations centre (NOC) team and our collaboration with suppliers and partners allowed us to mediate the challenges that came with COVID-19 and provide the best service for customers at an incredibly demanding time. This year, we have proven that we are one of the most connected carrier’s carriers in the region with all routes covered, but we are always striving to provide more for our customers. High quality connectivity as in ensuring low latency and secure and reliable connections, require continued investment in cable infrastructure which is something we are continuously prioritising.

Security is also one of GBI’s top priorities now and for 2022. Our goal is to ensure protection to our customers from the rising hacks in the region and globally. That’s one of the reasons why we recently reaffirmed our partnership with Versa Networks and are continually working on developing our SASE capabilities. Together, we are fully committed to delivering exceptional products to the Middle East and beyond. As more businesses adopt a digital-first approach to their operations, there is a need for networking capabilities that provide agility, flexibility, quality, and security. Forward-thinking and security conscious enterprises are turning to GBI seeking a solution to their cloud, networking, and security challenges.

For 2022, GBI intends and has ambitions to contribute to the FIFA World Cup 2022, taking place at our base of operations, Qatar. We appreciate the importance of delivering the first event of this magnitude in the Middle East and are well prepared to contribute to the success of this event.

Seeking expansion and improvement, where are you looking to grow your footprint? What are some of the improvements you have made to your cable system? What are some of the future improvements you plan on making?

GBI has plans to expand our product offerings to both satisfy customer requirements. Innovating in products customized to meet new complex customer requirements, with variable bandwidth options. There are various low latency usage areas across multiple verticals such as but not limited to dynamic e-learning platforms, video gaming, digital payments, surveillance systems, and telesurgery. GBI is continuously developing products underpinned by our GBI Smart Network, that will be able to support these innovative technologies.

With regard to the GBI Smart Network, our network and engineering teams are consistently looking for new opportunities to further our automation goals, specifically looking at software designed principles, effectively making our “Smart” network smarter. GBI is also considering widening our network footprint, by looking at various expansion opportunities in Africa.

Lastly, GBI is ensuring business continuity in the case of cable cuts through diverse routing options and in-built redundancies in GBI’s Network. GBI is and will continue to solidify our position both in the region and globally as a trusted global network provider, providing top-tier connectivity, connecting people, communities, and businesses.


How do you ensure you remain a partner of choice for telecom operators and ISPs all around the world?

GBI is extremely focused on being a customer-centric business and we pride ourselves on our innovative customer service strategy. For that reason, partnerships are of utmost importance to us. We prioritise our customer success which in turn allows us to build on our own and, put simply, this makes for a preferred business partner.

GBI plays a significant role in supporting digital transformation journeys across the globe by providing a trusted platform that is a foundation for innovation. This, coupled with our extensive international footprint via our GBI Smart Network, means we provide quality connectivity that enables sectors across the board to explore and develop new technologies. As such, telecom operators and ISPs turn to us as the provider they can count on.

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