AT&T Focuses on India, China

Asia Pacific is the carrier's fastest growing region in the world, with 2007 revenues up 22% over the previous year, beating the company's growth targets

The Asia-Pacific region is AT&T's fastest-growing region globally, and the company intends to tap on growth opportunities particularly in China and India.

The carrier held a media roundtable Tuesday to announce a US$1 billion global investment it intends to make this year.

Choo Hock Lye, AT&T Asean/South Asia regional general manager, said the Asia-Pacific region exceeded the company's revenue targets last year, and that retail revenue grew 22 percent over that of 2006.

The company's revenue grew most dramatically in India last year, at 85 percent year-on-year growth. China was closest at 31 percent.

The Asean region clocked a 9 percent year-on-year growth over 2006.

AT&T has also increased its focus on India, separating the company from the region's management. The country's operations will report directly to headquarters in the United States.

The carrier's interest in the region will see it investing in eight new MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) nodes, expanding hosting space in Singapore and in regional subsea cable systems, such as the AAG (Asia-America Gateway Cable System).

Collis Loh, AT&T Singapore general manager, said the company, which is involved in some four to five current subsea cable systems projects is focusing more on Transpacific systems because of its interest in supporting Chinese and Indian operations.

Loh said Singapore, which contributed 70 percent of Asean revenue last year, will receive investment in the form of infrastructure and technology upgrades, such as a third MPLS node, ethernet capability upgrades, and physical expansion to its hosting center.

The company's operations in Singapore include a center handling its managed hosting, application services and utility computing services, which Loh said by the end of 2008 will be doubled in size.

The center is located in Chai Chee in Eastern Singapore, and will have some 15,000 square feet added to its current size of 10,000 square feet. AT&T runs 38 such centers globally.

Said Loh, referring to Singapore's average wages and cost of living: "Singapore is not the cheapest place to run a support center, but some things are in our favor, such as having a central time zone and good, reliable infrastructure."

Choo said Singapore benefits from having an influx of talent from within and outside the country, which helps keep costs lower. More importantly, said Choo, the country's stable power and Internet infrastructure keeps its track record high.

On the emerging markets in the region such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, Choo said growth is slower than that of AT&T's developed bases in Singapore and Hong Kong--not to mention the current two growth leaders, China and India.

"Our base there is smaller, so growth is slower. The countries are generally more regulated so it's harder to penetrate [the market], and there are fewer MNCs there, too," said Choo.

AT&T did not specify how much of the US$1 billion would go into its investment in Asia.

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