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HKT B2B Network Service Innovations

HKT’s Peter Lam explains the telco's ultra-broadband strategy for the B2B market.

By Peter Lam, Managing Director of Engineering, HKT

Most of our B2B customers are currently undergoing digital transformation. The demand for high-quality ICT services is growing, creating an entirely new B2B market that’s driving telecom operators towards a new phase of development. In view of this, HKT has implemented continuous network service innovations to maintain market leadership.

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The B2B market normally includes governments, MNCs, SMEs, and the carrier business, which is characterized by high growth potential and high profit margins. It remains the most competitive market segment and a new growth engine for many telecom operators.

HKT’s B2B market ultra-broadband strategy

HKT’s ultra-broadband strategy is to move from access and connectivity to content, applications, and transactions. 

On the access network side, we actively rolled out territory-wide fiber coverage, including FTTO to support mission critical applications in the B2B market, to capture business growth opportunities with high-speed broadband.

On the core network side, we’ve leveraged the tremendous traffic usage stimulated by our extensive fiber coverage in the access network to build a high-capacity core network in a cost-effective way. We provide a full range of cloud-based applications to meet emerging business needs, with a robust SLA that’s one of the key differentiations from our competitors.

For our flag-ship Carrier Ethernet data service, HKT is able to commit 100 percent to its SLA thanks to our sophisticated design for network resilience. New applications in cloud are a market trend that’s fueling future growth, and we’re actively developing new applications to meet emerging B2B market needs.

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Extensive fiber coverage and network nodes enable ubiquitous ultra-broadband services

Leveraging our extensive network nodes and territory-wide fiber coverage, HKT can provide ubiquitous ultra-high-speed connectivity with resilience. For some remote areas, it’s more economical to serve customers with mobile broadband solutions.

HKT also boasts international network coverage. As a top ten global traffic carrier, we have 125 points of presence across 76 cities utilizing over 60 submarine cable systems.

We’re able to provide end-to-end high-bandwidth, low-latency services to local and overseas customers. The high-bandwidth, low-latency services are particularly welcomed by the BFSI customer sectors.

Challenges in the Hong Kong B2B market

Although the penetration of broadband services for individuals and households has hit new levels, we’re well aware of the threat posed to traditional broadband services. We predict that the B2B market will be a new growth engine for many telecom operators. Today, typical B2B service requirements cover voice, Internet, data, payments, IoT, video surveillance, Wi-Fi, and securities, and B2B customers’ requirements are continually increasing. For ease of operation and cost efficiency, B2B customers normally require simple connection services to support multiple applications. In addition, they require instant bandwidth upgrades, quick service provisioning, a 100-percent SLA commitment, real-time proactive service performance monitoring, and higher service quality at a lower price point.

Therefore, we need a completely new network design to improve our cost base. And we need our service provisioning and maintenance process review to become more agile, so we can maintain our competitiveness in the market. 

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A cost effective solution to lower CAPEX

Our analysis shows that for a typical CAPEX investment profile for network infrastructure, core network equipment typically accounts for 7 percent of total CAPEX and that edge network equipment and fiber infrastructure form the bulk of investment in network infrastructure.

Therefore, we’ve adopted a flexible fiber solution for both B2B and B2C customers to lower CAPEX on fiber infrastructure and access networks. We use direct fiber to serve mission-critical customers such as the police, hospitals, and BFSI customers. CAPEX for the B2B market can be incremental and we can greatly reduce it by leveraging our large B2C high-speed broadband customer base and Huawei’s GPON technology. 

In April 2020, HKT became the first mobile operator to launch 5G in Hong Kong. Mobile access solutions play an important role in serving the B2B market. For example, it’s more cost-effective to deploy a mobile access solution for services that don’t use much data.

Mobile access can also be used as an interim solution for voice, data, broadband, and video surveillance when a customer’s premises are not yet covered by fiber. Moreover, mobile access is the ideal backup for a fiber solution.

CE 2.0: A multiple services multiple access platform

Our flexible Carrier Ethernet 2.0 network supports multiple services through multiple access platforms to achieve high cost efficiency. It can support all of our B2B services such as data line, Internet, Wi-Fi, Enterprise Centrex, and 5G mobile backhaul services, whether they’re served by direct fiber, PON or DSL. This greatly expands our service coverage and flexibility to better serve our existing B2B customers. More importantly, it’s a secret weapon through which we can attack our competitors’ customer base.

B2B customers are always looking for dual carrier service diversity. And for good reason – they have a tendency to put some of their connectivity services in the hands of our competitors. In view of this, we’ve built a twin CE 2.0 network, but with different equipment vendors at different site locations, to simulate a virtual competitor’s network environment. This provides a three-level resilience solution. With the virtual carrier network, we can commit a 100-percent SLA for our CE 2.0 service. The virtual carrier network not only helps to protect our customer base, but also attracts customers away from our competitors.

The virtual dual carrier configuration has helped us win many projects in recent years, especially mission-critical applications in the banking and financial sectors, and emergency services from the police, fire department, and health authority.

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Serving B2B customers with emerging technologies

Most B2B customers are undergoing digital transformation to improve efficiency and become more agile at innovating new services. Our reliable connectivity and managed services create a tailor-made platform for supporting B2B customer business transformation.

We provide customized solutions for different B2B sectors such as finance, insurance, retail, manufacturing, construction, and education by integrating connectivity, CPE, cloud, and security solutions. Emerging technologies are increasingly driving the application of innovative solutions that converge AI, IoT, and cybersecurity. HKT is the major service provider of IoT solutions for Smart Workspace, Smart Campus and Smart Shopping Malls, and we widely apply AI in our B2B applications.

AI-powered video analytics 

The smart surveillance camera system is one of HKT’s AI-powered video analytics solutions that’s helping the government to monitor illegal waste disposal by construction companies. To avoid paying waste disposal charges, some companies dispose of their waste in remote areas without permission from the government. We installed the smart surveillance camera system to provide real-time monitoring in such areas. The images captured by 4-megapixel cameras are processed by a sophisticated video analytics system. The government is instantly notified of suspected incidents, creating an effective and cost-efficient solution to an ongoing problem. 

On the flip side, the system is also used as part of smart construction sites, with a whole suite of applications available to improve worker safety and work efficiency. These include location-tracking, asset-tracking, mobile attendance, danger zone alerts, and fleet management. The video analytics system also ensures that site workers wear necessary safety protection equipment such as helmets, reporting any violations instantly.

C-V2X application at Hong Kong Airport

HKT has helped Hong Kong International Airport develop an autonomous driving system for their baggage carts. In the past, a driver needed to drive to and from Sky Pier to the Passenger Terminal through a single-lane bi-direction private road inside the airport. The driver turnover rate was very high because of long hours of tedious work. Moreover, the baggage carts move at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour, occupying the road for so long that they block fire engines from passing – a problem that autonomous driving can solve. Our C-V2X RSU and camera solution is installed at both ends of the road and at the fire station entrance. If a fire engine is in transit, the RSU sends information to the OBU in the baggage cart, which then stops to let the fire engine pass. 

As emerging technologies are applied, we will continue to provide groundbreaking services and strong SLAs for our B2B customers.