As Global Crossing gets ready to launch more retail services aimed at business customers, the companys media and entertainment division is revving up sales after 18 months of footwork in Hollywood. Like most of its competitors, Global Crossing hopes to sell very large pipes to media companies such as BBC, CNBC and CNN, and entertainment companies such as the Hollywood studios. Donna Reeves, president of Global Crossings media & entertainment division, says her customers are asking for much more than bandwidth. She spoke with Senior Writer Max Smetannikov about the companys epic pitch to Hollywood.
You recently announced CNBC Europe as a customer.
We just came public a few weeks ago with a strategy to build an extranet on the backbone of the network that we have in place. With announcements like CNBC Europe, the industry starts to look at fiber-optic and terrestrial network as a replacement for satellite.
Whats your strategy? Specialized bandwidth sales?
We have come at it in a very traditional telecom sense. We are leveraging a broadband network that we have just spent $20 billion and four years building to create a community of interests on this secured and shared infrastructure. Its an extranet for media and entertainment that not only connects customers that these companies would like to have access to, but also has on it applications they tell us its important for them to have access to. Now they can take their content and create new revenue streams.
What are some of these applications?
Applications start with the ability for companies to have access to an application where they can digitize their content, storage, Web hosting, work flow applications, digital rights management, security in lots of different flavors, [and] all of the applications for editing and special effects. We are dealing with partners, and it is our position to not only embed and have access to those applications for our customers, but also to be agnostic in terms of who they select to do business with.
The big five studios — what do they want to do on the Internet?
There are a lot of risks when you distribute content that is very secure. Thats why there is this surge of interest in Global Crossings network, which can provide security that the Internet cant. There are just too many different peering points, too many different networks, and the industry is looking for a secure and private network. Ours is a secured and shared infrastructure.
How would the deal with CNBC impact cable viewers?
The enterprise is where you will start to see the first shift. We are taking their content, helping them digitize it, and helping them move across the continuum. When you talk to cable, DSL and satellite companies, the consumer is looking for more content, and I think that is next on deck.
When will we see your extranet connected to last-mile customers?
We already got a connection into BBC. We are already working with several companies in terms of who are the customers they want us to talk to, because they do business with them via Federal Express every single day.
What about connecting movie theaters to fiber networks?
Its going that way. The question is: How fast? Approximately 10 percent of all films are done digitally today, [but projection equipment] is analog. These are very expensive pieces of equipment, and theaters are all struggling financially. I think its three, four, five years down the road. We will be ready by then.