A Conversation With Shyam Roy: CEO of Emtel

By Simon Vella

Emtel started operations in 1989 as Mauritius’s and the Southern Hemisphere’s first mobile operator. It is an international Joint Venture between a local company Currimjee & Jeewanjee Co Ltd and Millicom International Cellular.

In 1999, Emtel started GSM operations and in 2004, Emtel became the first mobile operator to launch 3G (UMTS) services in Africa and later in 2007 the first to introduce HSDPA (High Speed Data Packet Access) providing 3.5G services. In 2012 4G/LTE was also launched. 

Since 2013, Emtel also provides fixed voice and data/internet services to Enterprises & Households using a mix of technologies including FTTX, microwave, Wimax.

In recent years, the company has also invested heavily in several unique projects such as the Data Centre, the International Submarine fibre optic cable, a national underground fibre optic backbone, and the 3G & GSM networks. Emtel has also invested on operations outside of Mauritius in the past. It is one of the founding members  of what is known today as the largest telco operation in India – Airtel.

With the data centre project as well as the submarine cable project – Emtel is now in a position to provide worldwide reliable data centre collocation and hosting facilities with full connectivity at high speed.

Its “Tier-3 compliant” Data Centre provides state-of-the-art hosting facilities to global businesses. Emtel is a member of the LION2 international cable consortium, allowing it to provide international bandwidth and connectivity solutions.

In this interview, CEO Shyam Roy tells the story of Emtel to Simon Vella of Outsoucing Magazine.

Tell us about your path of bringing Emtel as an innovative Telecom Operator in Mauritius

Having been trained as an engineer, I’ve always had a passion for innovations. Therefore instinctively, I have driven Emtel to be very innovative in bringing new technologies and services in Mauritius since its inception.

Of course, these innovations have to make business sense as well.

What is the potential of Mauritius in the Data Centre and Disaster Recovery (DR) segment?

The potential is enormous, for local as well as global customers. The higher frequency of calamities around the world has created more awareness on the need for data back up and recovery services. The major key elements of infrastructure have been put in place by Emtel to serve the purpose for customers; safety, security, redundancy, connectivity-local and overseas, and also respecting all requisites for a Tier-3 Data Centre.

What are the reasons behind Emtel’s foray into the Data Centre business? What are the solutions that will be provided by Emtel Data Centre out of Mauritius?

Emtel has been building up its infrastructures in advance since some years in prevision of forthcoming future services. So, on top of growing its 3G network with enhancements to HSPA+ and LTE, we have built up a National Fibre backbone, embarked into the Undersea Fibre Connectivity sector with LION, entered the Fixed market with FTTx services and started Enterprise Solutions for our customers.

It was in line with all these that the Data Centre business was added on. Solutions provided by the Emtel Data Centre includes Data Back-up and Recovery and International Connectivity. We are currently building our Cloud offerings.


What are the facilites put in place by Emtel to ensure data security?

Ours  is a Tier 3 Compliant Data Centre and which has been built to comply with the TIA 942 infrastructure requirements.
The Data Centre is ISO 27001 certified and our NOC works on a 24/7-hour basis to be able to monitor customer equipment if requested.

What is your vision for the Emtel Data Centre going into 2014?

We need to think bigger and start building other data centres to satisfy the growing demand for local and international markets.

What is the potential of Mauritius as an ICT Hub mainly for the African Market?

Mauritius is very well placed to be the ICT Hub for the region. We have state-of-the-art technologies and infrastructure, the ICT competence required and a clear vision of moving forward. We foresee  great opportunities to outsource our expertise  out of Mauritius. 

What segment should Mauritius focus in order to succeed in the ICT or Outsourcing Industry?

Below are my picks:

Tell us about the ‘Emtel Knowledge Series Workshop’

The growing demand for Data Centre / Disaster Recovery Services, Cloud solutions, along with mobility and ubiquitous broadband – are accelerating the creation of the Networked Society.

The advantages of all those technologies are clear to industry insiders, but do clients fully understand them? And if so, are they willing to switch to these emerging technologies to reap the benefits?

To better understand the eco-system of today and driving early adopters to embrace the change, Emtel believes that, through proper awareness and better understanding of the eco-system, our customers will benefit from our expertise of making their ICT investment more efficient while bringing better customer experience.

Heralding this change in this way,  we provision ICT resources for our enterprise customers. Emtel is conducting a series of quarterly workshops dedicated to impart knowledge and experience about innovative technologies.

The first “Emtel Knowledge Series Workshop” is being hosted on Feb 11 in collaboration with the Ministry of ICT, Mauritius in line with the Government‘s vision to make technology more accessible, reliable and affordable in the quest to propel ICT as a prime pillar of the economy.

You are at the dawn of the 25 years of offering Telecommunication Services to the small island of Mauritius. A quarter of a century at the forefront of ICT innovation and contribution to the economic success of Mauritius. What’s your plan for the next decade?

It all depends on the evolution of customer demands and also on the evolution of technologies. There are lots of unknowns for the next decade.

What we know for sure, having been the pioneer in technological innovation for a quarter of a century, we shall be at the forefront of all new forthcoming innovations that will help the customers at home, in their business and in improving their lifestyle.