Juniper Networks and NEC Build New Network for Herotel to Create South Africa’s First Commercial Network Driven by Segment Routing
Juniper Networks, a leader in secure, AI-driven networks, and NEC Corporation, a leading global integrator of IT and network technologies, announced that they have worked with Herotel, South Africa’s largest fixed wireless service provider, to enable the country’s first commercial network to deploy segment routing as part of a significant network upgrade initiative. Herotel’s operational drivers for this innovation and investment include scalability and reach, agility, cost-effectiveness and the ability to consistently provide a superior user experience that can be tailored to regional requirements.
Since its foundation in 2014, Herotel’s overarching mission has been to drive ubiquitous, affordable internet connectivity and access to services and content across South Africa’s 1.22 million Km², including communities in remote districts. In addition to rapid organic growth of its network, the acquisition of numerous local service providers over a short period of time has further broadened Herotel’s reach. However, this approach has also led to a disparate, cost-inefficient infrastructure in need of simplification and alignment to meet its objectives. Over the past year, this need has been exacerbated by significantly increased demand for secure, reliable connectivity and bandwidth during work-at-home and extended lock-down periods, with thousands of workers accessing corporate resources from ‘unknown’ home networks. Furthermore, given the large distances between data centers and other points of presence, the ability to store and stream bandwidth-heavy content closer to as many customers as possible has become another imperative for Herotel.
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Herotel chose to build its new IP network based on segment routing principles, augmenting traditional MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) techniques, to maximize operational flexibility and agility and to help deliver improved, consistent user experiences at scale and cost-effectively. Segment routing is a control-plane architecture which simplifies traffic engineering, enabling the path that data packets take across the network to be determined in advance. This means fewer network elements are involved, avoiding slow response to sudden network changes. It also supports the application QoS (Quality of Service), mapping specific applications and end users to preferential network service paths.
- Herotel has now consolidated 19 separate networks and operating frameworks into a single architecture, in support of its simplification and cost-control program, having acquired 40 different service providers between 2018 and 2020.
- During South Africa’s initial national lock-down period starting in March 2020, Herotel experienced a 30 percent increase in network traffic.
- For the remainder of 2021, Herotel aims to bring another 60,000 new customers online, and is currently building new fiber connections for 16 towns, with another 18 planned for towns in the Western Cape district.
- Juniper Networks MX Series Universal Routing Platform underpins the solution deployed by Herotel. Specifically, Herotel has deployed the MX204 Universal Routing Platform for metro access routing and the MX10008 Universal Routing Platform in the network core.
- Herotel also has the Juniper Broadband Network Gateway Solution (BNG) enabled across its distributed architecture to support local peering and as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This capability is enabled by the MX platforms and Junos OS, the single operating system that powers Juniper’s portfolio.
- NEC led the architectural design and implementation of Herotel’s new network as the ‘Network Integrator,’ backed by its extensive transport networking integration and engineering capabilities accumulated through its rich experience of delivering innovative networking to hundreds of customers globally. It has also been recognized as Juniper’s Global Alliance Partner of the Year for 2020, underlining its outstanding execution capabilities and exceptional attention to customer experience.
- Juniper and NEC XON, a subsidiary of NEC, worked closely together to deliver Herotel’s innovative new network and will extend their collaborative effort to develop enhanced networks to drive Herotel’s continued business success in the region.
“Herotel’s stated mission for South Africa is ‘everyone connected’. In support of this, we have three clear strategic anchors: excellent customer experience, low-cost deployment and strategic availability of our services. The network is the critical element, so we knew we had to be bold and innovative to succeed and keep this promise to our customers. The solution from Juniper, with NEC XON as the integration partner, has delivered the simplicity, operational functionality and agility that other vendors simply could not.”
– Eldred Ekermans, Chief Technical Officer, Herotel
“Streamlining deployment at massive scale and across vast distances yet still focusing on the user experience was the challenge that Herotel brought to us. The segment routing solution now in place delivers optimal bandwidth utilization, reduced latency and automated traffic engineering capabilities. This enables Herotel to provide stand-out connectivity and services to its many thousands of business and residential users, despite the geographic challenges of such a dispersed population. It also has the necessary headroom and agility to keep ahead of Herotel’s ambitious ongoing growth plans, again without any compromise to the end-user experience.”
– Brendan Gibbs, Vice President, Automated WAN Solutions, Juniper Networks
“As a company that envisions social value creation ourselves, Herotel’s mission resonates with us and we are thrilled to contribute to making ‘everyone connected’ a reality in South Africa, one of the key markets for our global business. NEC, providing specialized telecom services with a customer-first approach, is excited to be a strategic partner for Herotel to deliver innovative 5G-ready networking and to pave the way to a brighter, promising future together.”
– Mayuko Tatewaki, General Manager, Service Provider Solutions Division, NEC Corporation