euNetworks: bandwidth changes everything

In the hyper-competitive European bandwidth market, euNetworks is distinguished from its competitors, not just by its geographical, network and product capabilities, but by the honesty, focus and clarity with which it markets its solutions and delivers services to customers.

euNetworks is focused on delivering scalable, fibre-based products and solutions to a customer base that is at the centre of technology transformation. “We focus on what we can do well and stop doing what we can’t,” says Brady Rafuse, CEO of euNetworks. “We are a horizontally-integrated bandwidth infrastructure company that sells focused products to target customers. We try to earn our customers’ loyalty through consistently over-delivering on one or two key benefits and work to be the category owner for bandwidth infrastructure services in Western Europe.“

At the core of euNetworks’ delivery capability is its assets. euNetworks owns and operates 14 dense fibre-based metropolitan city networks, which are connected by an intercity backbone covering 49 cities in 14 countries. These networks directly connect into over 300 data centres across Europe and many more buildings and sites important to the company’s customers. This footprint supports its customers’ bandwidth growth needs and the performance requirements that their high bandwidth consuming applications demand. It’s a geographically concise model that mirrors the company’s approach to customer relationships – focused and targeted.

The company’s customers are household names and well-known leaders in their sectors – firms many of us interact with on a daily basis – cloud and content service providers, media enterprises, financial services firms, data centre operators and other carriers, according to Rafuse. “The key ingredient is that their businesses run on the internet. For some of our customers, internet traffic usage is doubling every year. Our job is to make that growth a reality by ensuring that their data-rich services get the speed they need.”

euNetworks sets out to be the lowest cost producer of bandwidth solutions. “We do this by owning and operating fibre networks and ensuring we have good data to enable an efficient delivery process for our customers between the locations they need,” says Rafuse. “Our footprint is unique, differentiating us in the market. We also continue to invest in our network to support our customers, and the speed with which we complete that network development sets us apart.”

Before euNetworks builds new capacity it has to be confident there is going to be sufficient demand. “That doesn’t mean we have to sign contracts that would justify the cost of a network build out: in 2016, for example, we invested in network to Marseille, because as a key European landing station for international subsea cables, it was clear there would be opportunities for us,” says Rafuse. “However, to some extent we have to pre-empt our customers’ plans. That requires a close relationship with clients so that we understand their business plans and can proactively anticipate their needs.”

euNetworks’ value proposition has evolved over time. “We’ve always focused on the same stretch of the communications market but who we sell to, and how we do it, has evolved over time as our customers’ needs have changed,” Rafuse explains. “We anticipate that our business will continue to evolve as clients find new ways to use ever larger quantities of data. Our assets are perfectly suited for 5G, for example, which we think will become significant in Europe far sooner than is widely expected.”

“Fundamentally, we’re getting data from one place to another by the shortest possible route and at times, offering up to five route options to do so. That makes a big difference to a high frequency trader or to someone editing or watching a video. We also have a reputation for moving quickly to fix problems – it’s a simple fact that sometimes cables get dug up and severed – and customers appreciate how we respond to those problems.”

So what does all of that mean for the future? “I’m more interested in the journey than the destination, and that suits the ever-changing needs of our customers and the evolving nature of the market,” says Rafuse. “For euNetworks, success is about getting better every day. New challenges emerge and we must respond to them at internet speed.”

One problem facing euNetworks and many companies in Europe today is the uncertain macro-economic outlook in the EU and the UK, where the company is headquartered, and the lack of importance that some governments place on internet connectivity in the region.

“Regulatory regimes in the region do not work as well as they should. For my customers, what matters is speed and performance, not the relationship between the regulator and the former incumbent PTT provider, which all too often dominates regulatory thinking. Customers want quick results – and the internet should be a pure market – but it is sometimes hampered by legacy attitudes among regulators.”

Despite these obvious frustrations, Rafuse continues to find the industry exciting. “I love the internet: I’ve been at euNetworks for eight years and was at Level 3 before that – I’ve always worked in data rather than voice,” he says. “It’s cool to be part of the biggest change in our world since the agricultural and industrial revolutions. When I was at Level 3 we put TV on the internet: that doesn’t sound like much now but at the time it was an amazing achievement: what we do at euNetworks is that on steroids. At euNetworks we believe that bandwidth changes everything and we are focused on delivering that service to our customers as rapidly and simply as possible, enabling them to accelerate their businesses; that in turn impacts all our lives as consumers today.”

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Brady Rafuse’s emphasis on getting on with the job and being straightforward with customers extends to his expectations regarding euNetworks’ financial partners. “We work hard at trying to listen and understand what our customers’ goals are,” he explains. “We expect the same from our partners, including the banks we work with. We want to work with people who take the time to understand what we do and, rather than generalising and putting us in the same bracket as former incumbent telcos and the wider telecommunications market, actually know what our business model is about.”

According to Rafuse, ING fulfils these criteria admirably. “We place a great value on the importance of relationships and so does ING,” he says. “It’s easy to get lost in the complexities of what is a complicated internet market but ING does a wonderful job of understanding where we operate in the industry and what we are trying to achieve.” Meanwhile, Rafuse is enjoying the relative freedom that euNetworks’ recent delisting has given the company. “It’s changed management’s life a great deal – there’s a massive regulatory burden as a listed company. Communicating to investors remains important but as a private company, ultimately we can be nimbler than we were in the past.”