[Economic Observation Network] The temptation of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area: Livecom’s global layout from Hong Kong
At the end of June,Livecom will start from Hong Kong to lay out a global layout. Ding Minglei, a communication engineer, and a dozen colleagues of the Department will start from Shenzhen to carry out maintenance and inspection of equipment in 30 African countries, including South Africa, Uganda, Congo, Zimbabwe, etc. For a month,v data lines, satellite lines and other equipment will be overhauled by them to ensure smooth communication lines. 

According to Ding Minglei's experience, this kind of maintenance and patrol inspection work should be carried out once every six months. At other times, these engineers are resident in frontline, constantly shuttling around African countries to carry out engineering tasks. In the seven years of working for Livecom Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Ding Minglei has been to more than ten African countries to maintain equipment, troubleshoot faults and build ground communication stations.

Livecom is a company specialized in providing overseas communication services and information platform construction for domestic "offshore" enterprises, government agencies and organizations. Chen Jiang, general manager of the company, told the economic observer that at present, customers of enterprises and units such as CNPC, CNOOC, Sinopec, China Railway, CCCC and Xinhua News Agency hope to establish their own special network in the process of "going out to sea" for the sake of communication efficiency and security, while LIvecom hopes to integrate resources, establish data centers and build a global network in overseas to meet their needs. At the "2018 Global Service Outsourcing Conference" held on June 9, Fang Aiqing, former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce, said that in the first quarter of this year, the contract value of service outsourcing undertaken by China was 265.99 billion yuan, up 15% year on year. Among them, the contract value of offshore service outsourcing was 168.03 billion yuan, and the executed value was 103.39 billion yuan, up 13.6% and 10.6% respectively year on year. According to the latest data of the Ministry of Commerce, from January to April 2018, China's export of emerging services (digital economy, software and computer service outsourcing driven by digital technology, etc.) amounted to 288.6 billion yuan, accounting for more than 50% of the total export of services.

Chen Jiang has worked in ZTE for 20 years and is responsible for overseas market business. At that time, he had felt the need of overseas enterprises for information technology: "ten years ago, I saw that many overseas enterprises and Chinese funded institutions undertook huge projects, some of which even amounted to US $100 million, but their information platform was very weak. They often used some unconventional ways, such as phone calls, faxes and other ways to transmit information, which was very inconvenient and affected efficiency In some African countries, it's not convenient to make a phone call. "

His company focuses on providing overseas network and information platform construction. With the introduction of the "One Belt and One Road" initiative, the scale of China's foreign investment continues to increase substantially, and more opportunities are being discovered. With the construction of the Bay Area in Guangdong, Hongkong and Macau, Hongkong, as a Communication portal, has provided a supporting point to link global resources for this kind of information service enterprises.

African communication station

The power bank   is a must-have item in Ding Minglei's luggage, sometimes even several more. His partners and customers in Africa often "covet" his recharger. Some of them will directly ask: "Ding, when do you leave Africa? Can I have the power bank before I leave? " In Africa, the capacity of most rechargers is relatively small, only enough for one charge, and the price is six times that of China. Similar interests are also reflected in mobile phones and other electronic products - there are always people who want to buy Ding Minglei's mobile phone at half price before he returns home. Most of these African partners met when he built a communication station. According to the required satellite antenna size, the construction time of communication station is also different: it takes two to three months for a large communication station, and one to two weeks for a small station. The common point is that in addition to their own technical support, the infrastructure of these communication stations need to employ local labor force, which requires cooperation with local infrastructure companies.

Chinese engineering projects are always popular with the local people. On payday, African employees in a good mood even say "thank you" to Ding Minglei in Chinese. The reason why Africans like to cooperate with Chinese people is that Chinese people can pay cash, pay wages in a timely and flexible manner, accept daily, weekly and monthly settlement, etc.; there will be no case of money deduction - this happens occasionally in the local area; if the project is well implemented, the price is higher than that in the local area - in the DRC, the local income level is about 1000 yuan / month, Ding Minglei's company paid to local workers is about 1500-2000 RMB / month. Paying too flexibly is not necessarily a good thing for employers. In Guinea, a Singaporean energy company once adopted the Japanese settlement method, but the effect was not ideal. Yu Feng, an employee of the company, told the Economic Observer: "Africans live a relatively leisurely life. Ordinary people will not think about tomorrow if they have enough to eat and wear. If it is a daily wage, they will not continue to work unless they spend all their wages." At present, the energy company employs more than 6000 local people to take charge of some labor-intensive work, and adopts monthly settlement to ensure the progress of the project; there are 400 Chinese people in charge of technical work.

Technicians are usually Chinese, and their experience is very popular with Chinese enterprises in Africa. As far as Livecom is concerned, they have set up a network of channel agents in Africa. Almost every day, there will be technical staff in Africa, constantly carrying out engineering tasks in various countries. If there is any abnormality in the equipment, it needs to be checked in combination with the actual situation on site. According to the size of the fault, it will take half an hour or even three or four days to maintain. In some remote areas, in order to solve the problem of network interruption of satellite internet stations as soon as possible, customers even sent helicopters to pick up technical personnel; in Angola, Tan Zhihong, the customer manager of Livecom, also took armed security personnel to meet customers through the war zone, all of which was nervous. Chinese enterprises have special consideration for the favor of Chinese service enterprises. According to Chen Jiang, there are more Chinese customers in the company's business, with more than 100 customers large and small, including nearly 40 large-scale state-owned enterprises; in addition, government agencies are also its target customers. "Chinese funded cross-border enterprises need to establish a unique network of enterprises, with high requirements for the private network, such as reliability, security, network encryption, etc.; the business of these enterprises is related to the national economy and people's livelihood, such as the exploitation of oil and minerals; most of the areas where the projects are carried out are in remote countries such as Africa," Chen said

From Beijing to Africa

in the DRC, Ding Minglei once faced the problem that the customer site could not access the Internet. He took professional instruments and flew to the scene to analyze the problems. He found that the network line could not be established because of the interference of local signals. Ding Minglei introduced that in some African countries, due to the confusion of communication management and the nonstandard installation of various lines, the frequency standards of radio communication equipment are not unified, and the same frequency interference problems occur from time to time.

How to change the basic network when the information platform is backward? In African countries with poor ground network, such as Uganda, DRC, Guinea, etc., satellite is the solution; in those places with relatively sufficient ground resources, the communication network is connected by international special line. Enterprises with a certain scale often carry out multiple projects and set up multiple branches at the same time, which is also very urgent for information requirements. Chen Jiang takes an example of a state-owned enterprise that he has contacted. This customer has dozens of overseas locations, and the types of projects he undertakes are different, including building houses, building railways, building bridges, mining oil, mining minerals, etc., all of which need to build a special network platform. There are not a few enterprises with such needs. What Chen Jiang has to do is to build a data center and dedicated network in a unified way overseas, lease large bandwidth (dedicated lines) according to demand classification, and share lines with these institutional customers to reduce costs. In foreign countries, people living in foreign countries often feel lonely. They need the Internet to understand information and communicate with their families. In Africa, there's plenty of free time - Africans don't have the habit of working overtime, and Chinese also have holidays. Most of the time, expatriate engineers like Ding Minglei can only exercise and run in a small area in their hotel or dormitory. The only entertainment activity is the Chinese TV installed by him to watch the national trends, or the videos with his family through the satellite, special line, VPN and other special networks provided by his company.

In addition to the life of employees, outbound enterprises also have a variety of information needs overseas. Tan Zhihong told the economic observer that the first is the demand for television, which can receive domestic channels; the second is the demand for international telephone, which is poor and expensive in Africa. On the basis of special lines and satellites, the quality of voice and video communication provided by the platform is relatively good and the cost is relatively low (less than 0.2 yuan / minute on average); the third is the demand for Internet, which can meet the local demand Chinese personnel can access to the domestic network at any time to shop, play games, chat, and video of their families on the Internet; fourth, office demand, access to the domestic headquarters server, mailbox, personnel management, financial management, etc., through special line communication; fifth, video conference demand, especially the central enterprises that pay attention to management, often hold video conferences; the other is information security The whole demand involves trade secrets, information confidentiality and other aspects. A seemingly ordinary communication line is not directly connected from Beijing to Africa. There are many links in the construction and design of overseas platforms. Chen Jiang introduced that from the headquarters in Beijing to a country in Africa, there have been many links. In mainland China, service providers need to cooperate with the three major operators (Telecom, Unicom and Mobile), first transmit to Hong Kong or other international exports for connection, then take international backbone lines to Paris or other international exchange centers, and then transmit to African countries. Along the way, it is necessary to integrate domestic, international and local national resources, and integrate and provide international communication services of enterprises required by customers based on their optical cable and other basic communication resources. In this process, there is basically no government factor involved, and most of them cooperate through commercial contracts. Only one project needs to contact more than ten enterprises, large and small, to purchase. "In fact, we have formed an ecological chain to play their respective roles. We are responsible for designing networks, integrating resources, providing services, and providing follow-up maintenance." Chen Jiang said.

The difficulty lies in the specific issues related to laws, license licensing, resource coordination and communication in the process of connection and construction. In the process of communication with operators in various countries, Ding even learned French and Spanish. For example, to build a satellite project for a customer, to build a satellite ground station in 14 countries in Africa, 14 licenses are required. When building a satellite ground station in the local area, corresponding construction licenses are also required, which is very cumbersome and difficult work.

This circuitous connection is due to quality and price considerations. According to Chen Jiang, considering the connection cost and communication quality, at present, these data centers are mainly interconnected through submarine optical cables. Some global large-scale network nodes, such as Paris and Hong Kong, have rich communication resources. In addition, data centers are all interconnected. For example, if there is a problem with a satellite, they will contact partners in the ecological chain to see which satellite has a problem and find the reason. Fang Aiqing, former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce, thinks about the current situation of the service outsourcing ecological chain as follows: the service outsourcing ecological chain is forming, and the cross-border integrated supply is increasing rapidly. In the past, the boundaries among ITO, BPO and KPO were clear. Now, the boundaries between different parts of the supply chain, between design, implementation, operation and maintenance, have been broken. The boundaries are more and more blurred, and the business is more and more integrated.

New opportunities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Great Bay area. 

Some communication service companies in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Great Bay area choose to put the operation and maintenance work in Hong Kong. This tiny place has rich optical cable resources and many satellite companies. It is an important gateway to connect the world. It has dozens of ground stations, with a large satellite antenna of more than 30 meters, and a small satellite antenna of three meters and five meters - there are six or seven licensed satellite companies in Hong Kong and only one in the mainland at present. It also attracts operators from various countries, who also make Hong Kong the first choice for deploying data centers. In one building in Hong Kong alone, there are about 400 data centers of world-class operators. The jumper on the rack can be completed quickly in a building, which is very convenient for the interconnection between operators. This situation is also common in other world-class communication hub cities. Resources all over the world are concentrated in one building, realizing the desire of cost and convenience, while operators do not even need to go to many places to find resources.

Chen's company has already obtained the international telecommunication operation license in Hong Kong, which is equivalent to doing the same thing as the three major operators in the world. So far, in the ten years since the start of Hong Kong Data Center, the company has established data centers on all continents: Paris, London, Johannesburg, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia, Dubai in the Middle East, etc. More Chinese science and technology service enterprises have seen the opportunities brought by the development of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Bay area. A company named Toone Technology Co., Ltd. has participated in the construction of the information system of Hong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge. The company has previously provided services to CNPC, Tianjin Binhai construction investment group, Shenzhen Metro Group and other enterprises, and made progress in the development of code free. Xiong Li, President of the company, told the economic observer that they are currently very interested in providing management system services for Chinese enterprises going to sea. In the context of the development of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, Hong Kong is playing a greater role as the hub of international communication. According to Chen Jiang, more and more customers have set up overseas network convergence centers in Hong Kong. Hong Kong's open market environment, abundant satellite and submarine optical cable resources, and POP of telecom companies from all over the world in Hong Kong all provide convenience for such businesses. Relying on the big bay area of Guangdong, Hongkong and Macau, the market development along the "One Belt and One Road" has become a new highlight of offshore business development. According to the China Outsourcing Brand Development Report 2018 released by the international trade and Economic Cooperation Research Institute of the Ministry of Commerce, the international operation ability of Chinese service outsourcing enterprises is continuously improving. The service objects of "China outsourcing" cover more than 200 countries (regions) in the world, from the US, Europe, Hong Kong and Japan to Southeast Asia, Oceania, Middle East, Latin America, Africa, etc.

At present, these science and technology service companies provide basic information services for Chinese enterprises, such as office automation, finance, contract management, etc. Chen Jiang believes that when the infrastructure platform construction meets the application requirements of informatization, it is necessary to look for opportunities in the informatization support involving core applications. At present, the large central enterprises going out have clear requirements for information construction, and the demand growth in the future is also expected. (Economic Observer)