Don MacNeil, vice president of XO Carrier Services Operations, on Latin American telecom growth

Whether it is Mexico's telecom billionaire Carlos Slim looking to consolidate his wireline and wireless holdings or French media conglomerate Vivendi gaining a foothold in Brazil's wireline market with its acquisition of GVT, Latin America continues to be a fertile ground for telecommunications. At the same time, a growing group of competitive wholesale service providers such as XO Communications are stepping up with connectivity options for not only Latin American operators that need access into the U.S., but also international service providers that need access into the region to serve the needs of their multinational corporation clientele. To coincide with the release of our new eBook Latin America's Next Generation Networks, FierceTelecom recently caught up with Don MacNeil, vice president of XO Carrier Services Operations to talk about the carrier's recent expansion of wholesale connectivity options for Latin America.  

Don MacNeil, VP of XO Carrier Services Operations

FierceTelecom: Earlier this year, XO extended its network facilities into Latin America by adding a fourth international gateway the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas. What was the driver to build out this facility?
With the growth and reality of bandwidth demand, the timing of our investments has been fortunate for us because next-gen DWDM has given us an advantage. Where we look now is we want to skate where the puck is, so to speak, by watching where bandwidth demand is going to materialize and then get to those points of concentration. Clearly, you can't be everywhere, but there are better places to be than others. We've added this one and last year we saw growth in Asia and we were doing a lot with undersea submarine cable landing stations. It follows now with activity in Central, South America and Mexico as those countries become poised for growth. Taking our infrastructure to meet the demand is really part of the strategy.

FierceTelecom: So what does the deployment consist of?
If you think of all the major carrier hotels throughout the United States, there's one just this side of the U.S. border in McAllen, Texas. We extended a fiber loop into McAllen. We also pass Laredo, Texas, which is an increasing point of interest. Then, we loop out of San Antonio down in Texas and then back up the east coast of Texas into Houston. We have plugged that into our inter-city DWDM long-haul network. All of the great things we have been realizing for the last two years, such as our 10 Gbps in 10 days promotion. Having that infrastructure being seamless, our goal is to extend that 10 Gbps in 10 days to McAllen. Anyone that comes across the border from Mexico hits the carrier hotel in McAllen, cross-connects to us, and we can take to them to all the major points of interconnection in the United States.

FierceTelecom: Are there specific bandwidth allocations carriers are looking for to get into the Latin American market?
We'll be able to support everything from the lower speeds, but quite frankly our interest is in higher speed, i.e. 10 Gbps and 1 Gbps Ethernet. Where we have seen a lot of demand that's driven our DWDM investment has been on wavelength service. Specifically, a wavelength can be configured to support the Ethernet protocol. When we sell a wavelength, the interface is Ethernet. It's enabling this Ethernet infrastructure with high capacity bandwidth.

FierceTelecom: Is interest ramping on all of your four gateways?
Yes. Now that we have turned up our first set of circuits, we're going to add it into our promotion "10 Gbps in 10 Days." Because we have deployed Infinera optical gear, we realized that by embracing not only the hardware but also their element management system and logistics. What we have been able to do is crack the code on delivery. We feel very confident that between specific points of interest where we have deployed Infinera's equipment, we feel very confident that we can offer 10 Gbps in 10 days.

Click here to go to Part II of the interview