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Network, Unified Communications Jun 19, 2022

Helping Anglo American connect the most remote parts of the world

Bringing innovation and collaboration to some of the planet's most inhospitable places.

Anglo American
Natural resources and utilities
more than 100,000


When Anglo American increased its shares in De Beers to 85 per cent, it decided it was time to make sure their management and governance systems matched up. As part of this process, Craig Charlton, De Beers' newly-appointed CIO, came up with an IT strategy that put service and value at the top of the agenda across the whole group of companies. 

Evaluating Anglo American’s different service partnerships was crucial to this. And that included its global managed network services contract with us. As its original architect, no one was better qualified than Craig to see the value in that deal.

The challenge

From the smartphone in your pocket to the railway that takes you to work, mining products are everywhere in today’s world. But their sources are spread around the planet. And they’re usually not easy to get to. That’s a problem for the firms that find and extract them. 

Anglo American is one of those companies. In fact, it’s one of the world’s largest. David Heppenstall, its Chief Information Technology Officer and Head of Global Infrastructure, explains: “We work in the remotest corners of the globe, like 3,500 metres up in the Chilean Andes or hard to reach parts of Africa. It means we face connectivity challenges seldom found in other industries.” 

We made a global managed services deal with Anglo American. This originally swept away a large number of different service providers to create a single IP Connect global infrastructure. “That assures us of a fast and resilient network anywhere to increase asset automation, improve productivity and drive collaboration across and between our businesses,” adds David.

We work in the remotest corners of the globe. It means we face connectivity challenges seldom found in other industries. 

David Heppenstall, Chief Information Technology Officer and Head of Global Infrastructure

The solution

An end-to-end IP Connect global infrastructure comes with a big plus: it’s easy to add collaborative tools. For starters, it’s replaced hundreds of legacy PBXs with our One Enterprise solution. This uses Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) technology. UCM hubs serve over 20,000 users in each of the company’s four regions, with full eight-digit desk-to-desk dialing throughout the world. 

Meanwhile, One Voice makes sure that (where regulations permit) we carry international fixed and mobile calls over our network, so they’re only charged as local calls. Combined with One Enterprise, it means Anglo American sees a big reduction in its annual call charges. 

We’re also supporting Anglo American’s move to cloud services. However, with most of their operations happening in the southern hemisphere – and apps like Microsoft Office 365, Box and Jive hosted in the northern hemisphere – latency issues could slow things down. 

To tackle the issue, we designed and launched a secure internet gateway in our Croydon data centre, negotiating peering arrangements with Microsoft, Amazon and more. Now, Anglo American cloud traffic travels at high speed over our IP Connect global infrastructure, sped up over long distances by CoS technology. When it arrives at Croydon, it’s a short hop to the app provider through our lightning-fast Internet Connect service. Problem solved.

The result

Anglo American uses managed One Collaborate video conferencing as another collaborative tool, which runs over the IP Connect global infrastructure. Six Cisco TelePresence suites (two in London, two in Johannesburg and one each in Rio de Janeiro and Santiago) are in near-constant use and 99 per cent of users say they’re satisfied with them. 

CoS functionality in the IP Connect global infrastructure helps that satisfaction score by speeding the video conferencing traffic, prioritising it above less time-sensitive data. Globally, over 160 other video conferencing devices are in use.