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Keppel steps up broadband foray into Europe

The 60-40 joint venture between Keppel Communications and ECHO, a US-based venture owned by private investors, will roll out hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks, 2-way cable TV, cable telephony and IP networks.
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The 60-40 joint venture between Keppel Communications and ECHO, a US-based venture owned by private investors, will roll out hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks, 2-way cable TV, cable telephony and IP networks.

SINGAPORE - Keppel T&T is stepping up its broadband initiative in Europe and Asia. Through its wholly-owned telecom engineering arm, Keppel Communications Pte Ltd.the new joint venture will service the global broadband network design and project delivery market.

Besides Asia, this new venture also aims at establishing a significant footprint in the European broadband market space.

The 60-40 joint venture company, to be named ECHO Broadband (Singapore) Pte Ltd, will be majority held by Keppel Communications with the remaining interest held by ECHO LLC, a US-based venture owned by private investors.

ECHO is the first Singapore-headquartered company to enable global broadband carriers to meet the needs of broadband access businesses by designing and rolling out broadband digital networks including hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks, 2-way cable TV, cable telephony and IP networks.

The Company will first focus on the lucrative broadband project delivery markets in Asia, Europe and the Americas, whose growth is fueled by explosive e-commerce activities and rapid telecoms deregulation. The global broadband market is forecasted to exceed US$26 billion by 2003 according to InfoTech Trends.

Initial offerings for ECHO include fundamental planning which encompasses broadband RF engineering design, fiber optic transmission planning and design, geographic information system (GIS)-based design; network cost planning; project implementation, business planning and technical due diligence services.

ECHO has recently secured impressive wins -- the most significant of which is their role in the largest broadband network upgrade project in Europe being implemented by Denver-based global communications development and operating company Callahan Associates International LLC.

European Foray
In Germany, ECHO will be responsible for supporting the design and delivery of 4.9 million cable home passes for the North Rhine Westphalia cable operation (Kabel NRW). This will enable the latter to deliver voice telephony, high-speed data transmission, digital television programming and interactive TV to subscribers in one of Germany's most prosperous regions.

In France, ECHO is working to upgrade 500,000 cable home passes for one of France's largest cable television companies, NC Numericable, to allow the network to offer broadband voice, video and data services.

In the Philippines, ECHO is supporting Broadband Philippines' efforts to build the country's first broadband wireless service that will significantly upgrade corporate Internet capabilities.

In recognition of the demands of the global market, ECHO has established a pan-European technical hub in Bonn, Germany and a pan-Asian hub in Penang, Malaysia with planned expansion into the Americas.

The Bonn Technology Center will be the focal point for the delivery of Kabel NRW network planning and engineering services, whilst the Penang Technology Center will complement the Bonn Technology Center in supporting the geographical information-based (GIS) system design for broadband communication projects implemented across the European and Asian continents.

Mr. Jim Slattery, CEO and co-founder of ECHO pointed out, "With production centres established in separate continents, we are able to support customers with "always on" technical capability. Our integrated delivery strategy is supported by state-of-the-art communications infrastructure and web-based project management applications, which enable 24 x 7 operation.

"This raises productivity levels for all projects and accelerates time-to-market roll out of broadband services for our clients, ensuring their timely acquisition and retention of revenue-generating end-customers."

To secure and deliver Asian broadband projects, the joint venture will leverage on Keppel T&T's proven project management experience, e-business solutions and in-depth understanding of the local markets and resources in Asia.

The joint venture will also benefit from the vast industry knowledge, global operational expertise and strategic business networks of its three ECHO LLC partners who now form the core management team of ECHO. They include Jim Slattery, David Loehden and Chris McGuinness, who share more than 40 years of experience in developing and delivering large-scale infrastructure projects around the world.

Dr. Chia Boon Tat, CEO of Keppel Communications added, "Broadband will power the future business and living environments. As demand continues to intensify for broadband access both in our homes and offices, we aim to deliver our signature quality broadband last-mile connection to customers.

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