Building Networks for Life
Soliton Telmec works across the entire East Africa telecommunication engineering ecosystem from conceptual design and needs analysis, to maintenance and service connection
Writers Matt Bone
Project Manager Donovan Smith
Soliton Telmec limited is a telecommunications Technology Company with their Head Office based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company was established in 2005, after evolving from Soliton Systems (est. 1999). The company builds and supports both the basic and complex infrastructure required to enable electronic communications across the nation, which includes data centres, fibre optic lines; and the related routing and transmission equipment, including on-going support backed by Service Level Agreement. With subsidiary offices in Kampala, Uganda and a branch in Mombasa, Kenya to support project implementation in the region, Soliton Telmec provides services across the East African region.
Abdirahman Sheikh, CEO of Soliton Telmec, regards the company's strong relationship with clients as one of its biggest assets: "We work with our customers at the design stage to choose the most optimal solution using desktop tools, and throughout the process we maintain field teams to ensure that our customers services remain up and running. I think that it is this level of care and attention to our customer's requirements that sets us apart from our competitors."
A New Level of Service
Soliton Telmec works across the entire ecosystem of telecommunication engineering technology from conceptual design and needs analysis, to maintenance and service connection. They continuously improve their services through many years of iteration and study in the research and development labs and through analysis of customer feedback. "Today, through the careful R&D process, Soliton Telmec are able to offer a new level of service. We have been able to realise this through step-by-step improvements. We created two Network Operations Centres in the region, ensuring that our customers enjoy the services with minimal interruption. These centres are open all day, every day and will be able to support clients with any enquiry," remarks Sheikh.
Soliton Telmec have a strong and qualified team who have access to state-of-art equipment who ensure that their workmanship is extremely professional and that there is no compromise on quality, delivery or timings.
In kenya, Soliton Telmec are widely considered to be market leaders of telecommunications and as such, are well equipped to take on regional challenges that come with building large optic networks, which can include some regional by laws which vary from one authority to another, this hinders the deployment of infrastructure. These challenges can also take the form of environmentally protected land or having to negotiate terrain in rural areas.
With a team made up of cross blend professionals with industry specific experience - having trained at some of the best institutions worldwide and gained additional experience in various levels of the telecommunication industry - Soliton Telmec are confident that there are no challenges either geographically or technologically that cannot be overcome. "We have introduced efficient methods of building networks that have now become industry standard and we are very proud of this. We have designed and built the first and largest fibre optic network solutions for residential use in Kenya and we will continue to look at ways of building bigger and faster optic solutions. We can always overcome challenges and look for innovative ways to do so. It is the Soliton Telmec way," cites Sheikh.
One of the bigger challenges comes from government institutions and agencies. Several governments encourage and even invest directly in Soliton Telmec's business, but agencies within the government are frustrating private sector companies such as Soliton Telmec with excessive fees, unpredictable changes in pricing for permissions and a lack of guidelines on telecommunication infrastructure development. This is due in part to having too many agencies, where multiple licenses and fees are involved, to carry out fairly simple projects.
Another challenge affecting the company is theft and vandalism, which is also a big challenge facing the communications industry as a whole. Vandalism will continue to be a problem as long as there are people willing to pay money for scrap metal. Sheikh explains that Soliton are working on ways to minimise the theft of their material and infrastructure, but it comes at a price: "We have had to choose metal free components across the entire route infrastructure of our network at a great inconvenience and extra cost to the company. We have been able to reduce cases of theft through this means, as fibre optic cable contains no metal and is virtually useless for any other purpose."
A Changing Industry
The telecommunication industry is developing at a very fast rate, with material costs becoming increasingly cheaper and quality constantly being improved. Today, the prices of connecting to the global Internet are roughly one-tenth of the price before the advent of fibre optic. It has become common place to see people catching up with news complete with video feeds on their mobile phones, downloading films in HD or keeping up with the latest social media events, all at the same time. Telecommunication is no longer a privilege but rather a necessity.
With technology moving forward at a steady pace, Sheikh is pleased with the integration of new technologies by Soliton Telmec to further advance the business: "Yes, there are lots of opportunities in infrastructure development thanks to the new technology being available to us, including development of the Fibre-to-the- Buildings / Fibre-to-the-Homes (FTTB/ FTTH) concept in the region and beyond. Our motivation is simple; we want to enable every home and as many individuals as possible to have access to fast connectivity, which will make the world into a global village."
Evolution of last mile solutions e.g. PON (Passive Optical Network) and LT E (Long-Term Evolution) has enabled the support of mission critical applications that are capacity intensive. Fibre has contributed significantly in ensuring businesses, homes, learning institutions, medical centres and government institutions are interconnected. "As long as there is a requirement for communication - be it for business, social or entertainment -and a demand for greater speeds and levels of data, the opportunity to connect will always be there," cites Sheikh.
Supplying the Region
Supplying customers with the necessary connectivity tools is a key area for Soliton Telmec. They deliver quality and timely services and products to their customers due to the strong partnerships they have forged with reputable vendors/manufacturers over the years. Soliton Telmec believes in establishing strategic partnerships with the best suppliers and maintaining healthy relationships with both client and supplier, which will be beneficial to all parties in both the short and long term.
Soliton Telmec are looking at further expansion into the region and the rest of Africa and with their services in high demand across the region, several global companies are selecting Soliton Telmec; thanks to the stellar track record and constant reliability they possess. "We are also working on solutions for cost effective and deeper fibre access, and we believe that our clients will appreciate the results of our efforts. Investment in new technologies that will result in better deployment is a continuous process for us. We want to influence the market to work with the new technologies we are creating," remarks Sheikh.
Investing in the Company, the Client and the Community
Investing in your staff is always an important part of any successful business and Soliton Telmec are proud to invest in staff training both in Kenya and overseas through various partnerships and training schemes. The company also works closely with clients to understand their aspirations and requirements for connectivity and ensure the services being delivered by Soliton Telmec, will be instrumental in that aspiration becoming a reality.
"It is a well-known fact that communication is a basic need. People need to talk! We need to connect with each other for business, education, security or personal reasons. The fibre optic system is one of the technologies that enable us to connect with each other. We will continue to re-invest our money into furthering technology and innovation in the sector," explains Sheikh. With Soliton Telmec always looking for new ways to bring greater connectivity to Kenya, and hopefully to a wider African audience, it will only be a matter of time before the company becomes the number one African connectivity supplier.
Sheikh concludes: "We want to surpass our bench-mark for service delivery and expand our business and operations to all countries in Africa. We want to change the mindset of our people and embrace technology to improve their livelihood. In short, when you think fibre, think Soliton Telmec,