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Advice from a user on expanding telecomm to overseas offices.

As Europe moves toward a single economic community at the end of 1992, and as opportunities continue to open on the Pacific Rim, more American companies will evaluate the advantages of expanding internationally.

If your firm has sights on overseas opportunities, you must make telecomm an important part of the planning process.

Bill Taylor, manager of corporate telecommunications for Hewlett-Packard, has successfully implemented a multinational network to support manufacturing plants in 16 countries and sales and service offices in 78 countries. HP uses a combination of private facilities and public networks to carry the company's voice, data and video traffic.

While establishing domestic corporate telecomm networks can often be challenging, Taylor maintains the difficulties are compounded overseas where several telecomm administrations (called PTTs) can be involved in the process.

He recommends that companies planning to expand their business abroad seek the help of an international telecomm specialist.

"Top management in firms targeting expansion abroad must make network planning a top priority," he says. "Just as you would seek experts on matters relating to overseas financing, taxes and employment, you should also seek the help of professionals in building the network that will support the venture."

Referring to his own experience, he says, "The performance of our international network is due in no small part to the service we've been receiving from our international service carrier (ISC) and the relationships it has developed with the PTTs in the countries where we have business opportunities."

HP's gateway to its international network is through WorldCom centers in San Francisco and New York. Primary and backup trans-Atlantic fiber paths reach HP's main European hub in Geneva and secondary hub in London. There is also a large operations center in Boeblingen, Germany.

Circuits to the Far East are hubbed through Hong Kond, but there is also direct access to Japan, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia. Other high-traffic destinations include South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada.

"In Europe, we have developed a private network utilizing high-capacity backbones to connect operational centers out of London and Geneva," says Taylor.

"With these and PTT-provided switched services, we extend the network to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, Austria, Greece, Italy and Spain. Our hub in Hong Kond provides connectivity to India, Korea, Indonesia and China as well as alternate routing to other important sites."

Meeting the challenge

HP's success in building a global network to support manufacturing, marketing, administration and R&D requirements can serve as an inspiration to companies seeking to expand or initiate operations abroad.

"Much has been made of the liberalized telecomm environments in Europe and the Far East, but the fact remains there will continue to be challenges in dealing with the telecomm administrations, and in overcoming or accommodating the cultural, language and regulatory obstacles inherent with building a multinational network," Taylor says.

"The most important partner you can have in meeting these challenges is your ISC."

One of the most important services the ISC provides is a strong relationship with overseas administrations.

"Not only should your carrier have a presence in the countries where you plan to do business, its presence should be through full-time residents of that country," advises Taylor.

"If your carrier's representative is a transplanted American, it could mean trouble. We agree 100% with consultants who advise local representation with the PTT. They understand the country, the language, the customs and are more welcome at the PTTs as negotiators in your behalf."

Be sure you have access to your carrier's personnel who are involved in your network, Taylor suggests.

Under an idealized, one-stop shopping arrangement, the ISC is your single point of contact for network management. "But in the real world, you are going to have occasion to contact the overseas rep and PTT directly," he says.

"Be comfortable in initiating this contact either from the U.S. end or the overseas end.

"Furthermore, I strongly advise that each of your operational managers also have a good relationship with the PTT and an understanding between your company, your ISC and the PTT that your own person has the authority to take charge in specific instances."

Another concern is how well your technical personnel will relate to the ISC's.

"Building an international network is complicated enough without ego-induced adversary relationships," Taylor says.

"Some carriers seem to believe that the customer is incompetent in judging circuit quality, although I'm happy to report that such has not been the case at HP. We're proud of our technicians and pleased that there is mutual respect between them and WorldCom. It all comes down to teamwork in getting things right."

Facility management

A final consideration concerns facility management and outsourcing capability.

"We believe that these are economic considerations," Taylor says. "A company may have the need, personnel resources and real estate to take on the job of housing and maintaining its own equipment overseas. Alternatively, a strong case can be made for having your equipment housed and serviced at your ISC's overseas facilities. In some instances, but not many, the PTTs offer facilities management.

"Companies planning an overseas network should consider carefully whether facilities management or outsourcing will be required before selecting a carrier or an overseas hub."

Will things get easier? "We believe so," says Taylor.

"First of all, international competition for telecomm networking is growing. In Europe, PTTs are gearing up to serve American companies that will be participating in the 18-nation European Economic Space.

"There's incentive to harmonize the telecomm regulatory environment as trade and currency barriers fall. Countries that offer a wide range of telecomm services at competitive prices are going to gain a greater share of business. Those that don't will lose out.

"But it won't happen overnight and it certainly will not miraculously appear on December 31, 1992 when the EEC comes into being," Taylor concludes.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:HP's global network
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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