Interview

Our services cut through the whole spectrum of internet and data users. ”. ERNEST BROWN – Executive Director, Zipnet Broadband Home

ERNEST BROWN – Executive Director, Zipnet Broadband

Mr. Ernest Brown an alumni of University of Ghana is the Executive Director of BBH since 2010. He was before the General Manager for Operations. Ernest has a 14years ICT career. A computer systems professional and Software Engineer, Ernest as an ICT policy expert sits on several international and local ICT boards. He is a member of Internet Engineering Task force working group on Internet Performance Metrics (IPM), fellow of International Center for Theoretical Physics, Italy on distributed Instrumentation systems.

He is currently the President of Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA), The chairman of Ghana Network Operators Group (ghNOG), Focused on improving the capacity of young network professionals managing networks in Ghana.

Tell us about ZIPNET’s inception and how long it has been around?

Broadband Home Ltd is Ghana’s first Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) Provider. The company’s trade name is ZIPNET. The Company took 48MHz of the then MMDS frequency and rolled out a Wimax 802.16d in December 2003. Today, BBH is not only the most reputable quality broadband provider in Ghana, but   also a leading provider of highly sophisticated and intelligent IP services with impeccable optimization and throughput for high-end enterprises and the SOHO customers. This has been demonstrated by the March 2012 report of the Ookla Netindex, ranking Zipnet as the second fastest in terms of internet speed in Ghana, not only that but Ghana is rated number one (1) in Africa for internet by the world body.

What are your services and which range of businesses do you cater for?

 Our services cut through the whole spectrum of internet and data users looking for high-       speed but reliable and excellent after sale support.  We provide services to the     Enterprise market, SOHO and home users. Our state-of-the –art technology has made BBH the obvious choice for the financial services sector providing very secured Wide Area and VPN connectivity. Our customers cut across all vertical markets. We are proud of customers like Tullow, Holiday Inn, several Banks and Insurance companies to NGOs           like Care International, Compassion international etc. we’ve had government establishments like Ghana revenue Services, VAT, National Petroleum Authority and many more.

Unfortunately all the government establishments have been taken away from us, seemingly because of NITA, which we believe is not a right direction but I guess we   don’t want to get into the politics of it.

Who are your clients?

BBH provides services to all sectors of the economy, the financial services sector      notably

the banks are benefiting from the superior technology used in providing data connectivity. The oil & gas industry can also boast of Zipnet services, academic institutions, international organisations and many more. Infact Zipnet has become the ISP of choice for most organisations

What role does ISP play in broadband today?

Internet Service Providers (ISP) are at the fore front of internet service dissemination to       the end user. With the increased availability of bandwidth resources from the various undersea cables in Ghana, the ISPs are playing a leading role in ensuring the provision of last mile solution to end users.

As more and more people begin to appreciate internet as a way of life, the challenge is        for ISPS in the Country to provide an always-on broadband service for the socio-economic development of this country.

Now there is a concern however, that needs to be addressed by the governing authorities. Broadband services comprises of the delivery of all three (3) classes of telecommunication services, namely Data, Voice and Video. Unfortunately in Ghana we seem not to be ready to let go the old regulatory principles where Voice was king, hence regulations was basically geared towards Voice management.

The world has moved on since the switching circuit era and today with the advent on convergence in the 1990s through which IP(Internet Protocol) has become the pivot upon which all technology rest, broadband service has come to stay. When we          talk of broadband services it means all three CoS (Class of Services).

So it behooves on the regulation body to align with global trends and allow the ISPs to        offer all three class of services if they so wish. Anything else constitutes stifling technological advancement in the country. We believe the members of GISPA can collectively make tremendous gains for themselves and for the country if we stop regulating on Class of Services. As it is now, only the foreign members of GISPA are benefitting.

What is your take on cloud computing with the imminent transition from IPv4 to IPv6?

There are many meanings to cloud computing but the one that strikes me most is a style of computing where massively scalable IT- related capabilities are provided as a service across the Internet to multiple external customers. Of course what this means is a lot computing resources are utilized through the clouds (Internet) and once that happens then it is important the address space is increased and making Ipv6 very     relevant in todays computing as we know IPv4 has almost run out of address space.

What will you say are the biggest challenges plaguing your industry?

The industry has come very far and has made some significant progress. One of the major issues that used to plague the industry was the availability of international capacity, but with the recent undersea cable boom that issue has been resolved.

Currently we believe uneven regulatory policies could be cited as an issue, but I will like        to believe that the current administration is poised to improving the inconsistencies.

Do you employ any monitoring mechanism to check fraudulent activities or Internet traffic?

Yes as a high-end telecom Company, we use a sophisticated gear in providing services to our numerous customers. Our state-of-the-art QoS tools automatically block fraudulent activities by employing (DPI) Deep Packet Inspection techniques on all packet, identifying the type and identity of each packet.

Further our Routers and Firewalls have very high-end and sophisticated firmware images embedded in them to allow only the most secured, encrypted and permitted traffic through our network.

Lastly our well trained engineers monitor the traffic 24x7x365. Now I guess you could understand why we are “The mini team with the maxi performance”.

What differentiate your services from competitors and how are you managing the competitiveness in the market?

Broadband Service Providers today deliver a wide variety of services including a growing volume of HTTP-based ‘over-the top’ (OTT) Internet video content, Skype and other VoIP application. All these applications raise performance issues hence a need for optimization, data security, network reliability and availability. To maintain the high gravity of service that subscribers expect, we control the delivery of our services by employing high end and very sophisticated QoS appliances, employing technologies like DPI etc.

Our Network is very well monitored through management of subscriber service utilization, troubleshooting and properly planned network scalability for effective capacity expansion as we keep growing. To guarantee our subscriber satisfaction, we do not take lightly issues concerning subscriber-application and network topology. Our advance network enables us to obtain granular network intelligence to manage traffic per application per subscriber, per service plan and according to local network conditions.

Furthermore, our robust and highly resilient network allow us to ensure fair use for shared customers during periods of  possible congestion by prioritizing and expediting the delivery of applications that are affected by latency or jitter.

We are the only Broadband Service provider with an elaborate tiered and quota management service enablement. As if that is not enough, our network effectively neutralizes botnets and outgoing spam, by quickly and accurately detecting infected users and anomalous activities on the network and stop these at source.

Ookla Laboratories in the USA currently ranked our brand as number two after Vodafone in terms of speed. We cannot wait to see a quality benchmark ranking as the market ranks our brand as number one.

This year we plan to energize the market with very sophisticated telepresence platforms to help companies and individuals to reduce their expenses on trekking for example, we have arranged to bring 260 TV channels to Ghana – almost every channel in the USA shall be available in Ghana very soon.

Where do you see the Zipnet in the next 5 years?

 We are very hopeful to become the predominant telecom company and brand in the market in the next 5 years.

It is then, the dream of our funder and Executive Chairman shall be manifested. That dream is to see high-quality internet availability to all Ghanaians, both rich and poor.

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