People & Interviews

Neterra: A Story of Innovation, Growth, and Global Recognition

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Neterra is a company that has been at the forefront of the telecommunications industry for nearly three decades. From providing the first internet connection in Bulgaria to running submarine cables under the Danube River, Neterra has always been innovating and expanding its services to meet the needs of its customers and partners.

Recently, Neterra won the Best Central & Eastern European Carrier award at the Global Carrier Awards 2023, a prestigious recognition of its excellence and leadership in the telecom sector. To learn more about Neterra’s history, achievements, and vision, we interviewed Svetoslava Bancheva, the PR and Digital Communications Manager of the company.

Svetoslava shared with us some key milestones and moments in the company’s journey from its founding in 1996 to becoming a global connectivity and telecom solution provider today.

A trailblazing start

“The first service we offered 28 years ago was a 64-kilobit internet connection via a satellite station from Sofia to Washington. We used it to power the first Internet providers in Bulgaria,” she said. “Our expansion saw the establishment of satellite stations across Central and Eastern Europe, Far Asia (including Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan), the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.”

She explained that the creation of Sofia Teleport, featuring pioneering large antennas for high-capacity transmission, marked a significant milestone. Subsequently, Neterra developed the region’s first independent carrier-neutral data center—Sofia data center.

“Early on, British Telecom became one of our first telecom operator clients, solidifying a partnership that has thrived for over two decades. Today, we host 90% of the world’s leading telecom operators. All cable networks that pass through Bulgaria have a presence in the Sofia data center. We now have 4 modern data centers,” she said.

She added that the Stolnik-based Sofia data center, positioned near the Balkan Peninsula’s largest substation, offers limitless power capacities for their business partners.

Technological innovations and global connectivity leap

Another significant step in Neterra’s development was the construction of their optical network. “We were the first to run submarine cables along the bottom of the Danube River. It connected us to both major and alternative suppliers in Europe,” Svetoslava said.

She revealed that this was the first independent connection of Bulgaria with the major telecom operators in the rest of the world. “It turned out that until then no one had run a cable along the bottom of a river – the suppliers of such cables had intended them for oceans where there were no currents, ships sailing nearby, and river-like specifics. Currently, we maintain four cables under the Danube, ensuring Bulgaria’s crucial fiber connectivity to the world,” she said.

In 2013, Neterra founded NetIX as an internet exchange, facilitating direct connectivity among different ISPs, reducing costs, and enhancing internet access efficiency. 

Svetoslava told us that NetIX has evolved into a robust network, accelerating internet and innovative connectivity services globally. “With over 220 data centers in 65+ countries, connecting 30+ internet exchanges and 180+ participants, who have a total of more than 10,000 networks, our platform processes over 2 Tbps of daily peak traffic.”

She also mentioned that nearly two decades ago, Neterra created an IPTV platform to offer streaming services of TV channels. In 2022, the company achieved a significant milestone with the completion of Sofia Data Center 2, alongside the establishment of an innovative optical network in Sofia. Simultaneously, the launch of a revolutionary cloud platform, enhanced data mining services, intriguing hybrid cloud solutions, and a ransomware-protected backup service with AI underscore Neterra’s commitment to cybersecurity and technological advancement.

Svetosalva says that today, Neterra “proudly offers a comprehensive portfolio of telecom services, earning us the coveted ‘Best Central and Eastern European Carrier‘ award at the Capacity Global Carrier Awards.”

Best in Central & Eastern Europe

The pinnacle of Neterra’s success was reaching new heights in 2023, winning the ‘Best Central and Eastern European Carrier’ award at the Global Carrier Awards. “Receiving this prestigious award fills us with immense pride and serves as a powerful catalyst for further enhancing our products, services, and customer service,” says Svetoslava.

“For nearly three decades, we have consistently garnered the trust and admiration of leading telecom operators, international organizations, and numerous regional players, establishing ourselves as their preferred partner and silent supplier in Central and Eastern Europe.”

“This remarkable achievement is the direct consequence of our unwavering commitment to excellence, uncompromising service quality, and unwavering professionalism. We are incredibly proud to hold an overall customer satisfaction score of 88%, a remarkable benchmark in the telecommunications industry. Additionally, 71% of Neterra’s customers readily recommend our services to their colleagues and business partners, earning us a spot among the top 1% of the world’s best telecoms. We are deeply grateful for this recognition and remain steadfast in our commitment to setting new standards of excellence in the telecommunications industry.”

Network defining excellence

Neterra’s success is grounded in its extensive network, spanning over 220 locations in 65+ countries. When asked about it, Svetoslava says: “Neterra’s international network leverages a synergistic blend of its own proprietary infrastructure and strategically aligned partnerships with leading telecom operators. This approach ensures an unwavering commitment to consistent and reliable service, underpinned by robust redundancy measures.”

Svetoslava emphasizes that heavy investments in top-notch infrastructure, equipment, power supply, and cutting-edge technologies is what contribute to their network resilience. She also mentions that a huge part of their success is a dedicated team of engineers monitoring services 24/7, ensuring seamless operation. 

The success story doesn’t end there. Neterra’s Sofia Data Center, Southeast Europe’s pioneering independent neutral data center, is pivotal for service reliability and security. Svetoslava highlights Bulgaria’s strategic position as a telecom hub, connecting Western operators to the Middle East and Asia. The “Sofia Data Center” brand, representing carrier-neutral data centers, offers businesses flexibility in provider choices. Continuous expansion, including the cutting-edge Sofia Data Center 2, solidifies Neterra’s position as a premier data center provider.

With four centers in Bulgaria, Neterra serves over 90% of global Tier I operators, fostering collaboration and access to critical networks. Serving diverse industries, including finance and media, Sofia Data Center stands as a testament to Neterra’s commitment to secure and innovative data services, ensuring sustained growth and reliability.

“Our strategic partnerships with reliable and proven telecommunications companies further bolster our network’s efficiency and reach. This interconnected ecosystem enables us to seamlessly connect data centers worldwide, including those operated by our partner networks.”

Strategic partnerships with global telecom giants

Neterra’s collaboration with major international telecom companies, including British Telecom, Verizon Business, and China Telecom (Europe), has played a crucial role in the delivery of cutting-edge services to clients.

“In our early negotiations with British Telecom, they set stringent requirements covering power systems, air conditioning, technical standards, and even working conditions for employees and engineers,” shares Svetoslava. The year-long negotiations not only secured British Telecom’s partnership but also propelled Neterra’s growth and commitment to global standards.

“The success with British Telecom established Neterra as a trusted partner, attracting collaborations with other industry leaders such as Orange, Vodafone, and Verizon,” adds Bancheva. Regular audits by British Telecom consistently recognized Neterra’s data centers, ranking them as the highest among outsourced facilities worldwide.

Customer-centric, agile, and values-driven

Neterra’s market position is characterized by a delicate balance. Operating at an international scale, the company remains a nimble and responsive organization. This strategic stance fosters agility, flexibility, and a keen understanding of customer needs. Unlike larger organizations solely driven by financial gains, Neterra places a strong emphasis on its values.

Neterra’s commitment to high-quality service, efficient communication, and professional support is fueled by a team of dedicated individuals. “Reliability remains a cornerstone of our success. When you sign a contract with Neterra, you are entering into an agreement that guarantees you exceptional service quality and unwavering uptime, 100% of the time,” says Svetoslava.

“Our data centers are rigorously certified to stringent international standards, including ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 20000, and PCI DSS. This unwavering commitment to security ensures the integrity and confidentiality of our customers’ data.”

Never forgetting its humble beginnings and the trust placed in it by customers, Neterra maintains a portfolio of diverse projects and key global engagements. This approach ensures the company avoids the limitations of smaller operators, achieving the perfect equilibrium. Neterra delivers value to customers, shapes innovative business models, empowers individuals, maintains a healthy work environment, and drives positive change, all while remaining dedicated to creating a sustainable and impactful organization beyond mere profit generation.

Stellar customer satisfaction and testimonials

Customer satisfaction stands as a paramount indicator of a company’s success, and for Neterra, the accolades from valued clients underscore their unwavering commitment to exceptional service.

“We are deeply appreciative of the numerous letters of appreciation and positive feedback we receive from our valued customers,” shares Svetoslava.

Neterra boasts an impressive 4.8 rating on Trustpilot, a reflection of the positive experiences clients have had with the company.  For a more in-depth look at the impact of Neterra’s services, interested parties can explore case studies available on the company’s website. 

Neterra’s social responsibility

Neterra’s commitment to social responsibility goes beyond providing cutting-edge telecommunications services, it reflects a genuine desire to make a lasting positive impact. Through financial support and active engagement, the company aligns its values with initiatives related to science, programming, education, and talent development.

Svetoslava says, “Our support for the Sofia Science Festival extends beyond sponsorship. We actively participate, organizing a radio amateur workshop that fosters scientific curiosity among all age groups.”

In the realm of natural sciences, Neterra champions the Bulgarian natural sciences team, inviting them to the Sofia Science Festival to inspire the next generation of scientists. The company’s dedication to talent development also extends to programming, with Neterra providing financial support to a specialized programming school and offering internship and job opportunities to promising graduates.

In 2023, the company actively supported Ukrainian refugees, providing educational scholarships and full maintenance support to a child from a socially vulnerable family. As Svetoslava emphasizes, “Sometimes, a small act of kindness can make a profound difference, empowering individuals and communities to thrive.”

At its core, Neterra believes in contributing to a better world, valuing not only intellectual development and professional excellence but also embodying genuine kindness and compassion in every endeavor.

Neterra’s vision for a better future

Neterra envisions a telecommunications industry that is not only technologically advanced but also customer-centric and comprehensible. The company believes that the current industry falls short in making complex matters understandable for customers. According to Neterra, the industry often oversimplifies services or portrays them as overly intricate, leaving customers confused.

“This approach neither helps the industry establish a foothold in the minds of those who require its services. And everyone in the world needs telecommunications solutions, and when they are not readily available, they are left to suffer. We aim to maintain our position among the top telecommunications service providers by addressing these very shortcomings,” says Svetoslava.

Looking ahead, Neterra has a clear development strategy for the next three years. The company aims to more than double its direct revenue from recurring services by enhancing the efficiency of its sales team, providing competitive prices, and leveraging sales channels and partnerships. Additionally, Neterra plans to expand its presence into Asia, Africa, and South America, with a focus on international connectivity, the Netix Internet exchange platform, network management services, and data center business as key drivers for this growth.

With a commitment to innovation, customer satisfaction, and global expansion, Neterra aims to stay at the forefront of the telecommunications landscape in the coming years.

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