The Home of Fibre and ICT Enterprise
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Soliton Telmec is building upon a successful 2014, capitalising on a dynamic and entrepreneurial philosophy which will see the Company expand and diversify its innovative range of services and solutions in East Africa.
The telecommunication engineering technology business traditionally completes conceptual designs as well as carrying out maintenance and service connections across the region, particularly focusing on the rollout of fibre in Kenya to connect monitoring cameras used by law enforcement agents.
Security is just one sector addressed by the myriad services and solutions offered by Soliton as part of its ongoing continuous improvement strategy. This significant period of 12 months has also witnessed increased investment into machinery and tools from an internal perspective, and an external expansion of the business as a whole through a revival of its Tanzanian office.
“The goal for 2014 was to be an industry leader with standards that the market depends on,” says the Company’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Ali Maawiy. “We have been at the forefront on the deployment of FTTx, we have successfully converted IP networks to GPON, and have reduced the cost of operations and increased uptime due to power instabilities.
“Improvement is an ongoing activity, and industry dynamism and better customer services are the cornerstones for progressive improvements.”
Compounding this growth has been an even more concerted expansion of its business networks too, indicative of a collaborative ethos which continuously sees Soliton as an active component of each local community in which it operates through various CSR initiatives.
The aforementioned core partnerships have been integral to Soliton’s growth over the years, forming vital relationships with some of the country’s leading tech exponents to form the basis for its own development.
Safaricom is one such example as a long-term partner in Kenya, complemented by a portfolio comprising the likes of Frontier Optical Networks and Airtel Kenya; all of which playing a pivotal role in the ongoing attainment of business-defining projects undertaken by the Company.
Maawiy notes: “We also have a key partnership with C Squared, constructing and maintaining more than 700 kilometres of fibre in Kampala metro which greatly changed the dynamic of doing business in Uganda.
“It has achieved the Open Access (infrastructure sharing) policy and has driven down the cost of internet and data to the end user.”
In Uganda specifically, Soliton’s rise has taken the Company as high as governmental notoriety in providing both technical and commercial expertise, “having a tremendous effect in reduction of data and internet costs in the country for the government especially”, Maawiy adds.
Further landmark projects being undertaken by Soliton at present include a commercialisation of the national backbone infrastructure of Uganda once again - connecting more than 90 agencies as a consequence - as well as opening up to the South Sudanese market in an attempt to bring much needed capacity to the country.
Connectivity construction in Ethiopia is further indication of Soliton’s international prowess, as the Company continues to fulfil its promise of expanding its operations year on year.
This philosophy stands true from an internal perspective too, not just expanding its footprint, but also expanding the services and solutions made available across said footprint.
“Our progressive, strategic alliances with leading vendors and involvement with our clients has always made us develop new services and solutions,” Maawiy explains. “Over the past year we have invested into more heavy machinery for backbone and long haul deployment; more trenchless machines; fibre blowing machines; aerial deployment cranes; right testing gears and solutions; and monitoring systems in the NOC for real time network status.
“These improvements and developments have seen our delivery times shortened and our quality improved. It has also improved our efficiency and ensures we lead the competition. We have been able to also quickly provide solutions to our clients on any new challenges.”
To facilitate the enhanced provision, Soliton has similarly invested comprehensive amounts into its own infrastructure, upgrading its state-of-the-art machinery and equipment as well as increasing its fleet of vehicles to aid deployment and support.
An influx of modernised testing equipment, in-house monitoring tools, and advanced technologies further enforces this refusal to rest on its laurels, complemented by a series of facility upgrades. The Company’s Nairobi repair centre, maintenance workshop and training facility, as well as the Kampala office have all undergone refurbishments to ensure that Soliton stays ahead of the industry curve.
Soliton’s successful expansion is even more commendable given the issues that engulf the sector in the region; the Company having to develop alternative solutions in order to overcome vandalism and improve the network’s integrity.
Another trend being monitored currently is the rise of FTTx (fibre to the x) in Kenya due to the focus by key industry players moving into the residential space and extending their own footprints.
“Soliton has been building capacity over the years by researching the local market against established ones, developing solutions for the local environment and acquiring the right tools to ensure proper establishment of the network and HR development,” Maawiy says. “We are now transferring the same knowledge to Uganda and are currently in the process of refurbishing and upgrading the national backbone infrastructure.”
This monitoring of future industry fluctuations and the ability to respond quickly stems from a youthful and entrepreneurial culture within the business; subsequently staking a claim at the forefront of the sector to embrace new technological solutions.
Maawiy continues: “Technological improvements cannot be sustained without development of the workforce. We absorb young graduates from the best institutions and take them through technical and management training, and the end result has been mesmerising.
“We look at this recruitment and training as a positive impact on the workforce in East Africa. This has also gone a long way in up-skilling in the industry.”
Think fibre, think Soliton
Committing itself to a entirely local employment strategy further enforces this dedication to internal up-skilling, which is aided once again by close collaboration with clients to understand what is required from the business now, and what might be called for in the future.
This future comprises further expansion into even more countries and a similarly proactive increase of solutions and services to ease its clients’ businesses; all the while in-keeping with the bread-and-butter offering that initiated Soliton’s journey to prominence all the way back in 1999.
“It is a well-known fact that communication is a basic need. People need to talk, and we need to connect with each other for business, education, security or personal reasons,” Maawiy emphasises. “A fibre optic system is one of the technologies that enables us to connect with each other, sending so called ‘rich media’ at relatively lower cost.
“Fibre therefore offers a greater improvement over other older technologies. To the extent that communications systems have proven to enhance convenience and reduce costs of doing business, fibre optic-based technologies neatly fit in as an enabler of this convenience.”
Smartness and resilience are two key assets which the CTO attributes to Soliton’s longevity in providing quality levels of fibre network services, all the while keeping a close eye on how to innovate once again moving forward.
“We work closely with our clients to understand their aspirations and dreams and ensuring we deliver that has been instrumental,” Maawiy concludes. “We conduct continuous research and development to establish better products and solutions through innovation and creativity; ensuring good business practice and ethics in all our partnerships, and making sure that when our customers think fibre, they think Soliton Telmec.”