Babtel is a converged communications service provider focused on the substantially underserved markets in the Middle East and Africa. We commenced Wimax operations in Baghdad in 2004, serving local economy security contractors and government entities.
In early 2008 Babtel received US and Iraqi permission to expand its services to Joint Base Balad (JBB), the largest US military airfield in the region; this service commenced operations in July 2008 and expanded to 16 other military installations in Iraq before the US troop withdrawal in September 2011. The Company's ongoing operations are focused on providing morale Internet services at Camp As Sayliyah (CAS) and Al Udeid Air Base (AUAB) in Qatar.
Predominantly, we offer international voice connectivity through two main types of services: Enterprise Telephony Services to Middle Eastern and multinational companies, governmental entities, and other service providers; and Coinless Phone Booth Services which we sell to laborers living on contractor camps at US military bases in expeditionary markets ("Third Country Nationals" or "TCNs"). Our initial efforts were focused on filling some of the most difficult niches in the soaring market for international communications services from contractors working in Iraq. That led to ongoing work with the Department of State in Iraq and the US Military at enduring bases in Qatar.
Upon our founding in September 2004 we immediately established operations throughout Iraq, commissioning our first customer, Agility Logistics (then known as PWC Logistics, "Agility") for whom we built out a 40-telephone Voice over Internet Protocol ("VoIP") network connecting their 24 remote offices in Iraq to their headquarters in Kuwait. Since then, we have grown our customer base to a total of 20 enterprises.
In June 2005, realizing the rapidly increasing demand for low cost effective telephony for contractors working on military bases, we established our coinless phone booth business to secure an additional source of cash flows. Today we own and operate 1 Gb and 10 Gb backbone fiber networks for 15,000 US soldiers and airmen connecting with their families. Despite the ongoing unrest, we continue to expand our core business.
On February 19, 2014, we signed a five-year contract with the Army & Air Force Exchange Services ("AAFES") to be the internet service provider to the soldiers and contractors on Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar and that contract was extended to Al Udeid Air Base on October 20, 2014. Our service provides cyber secure VoIP telephony and internet services via Wired and WiFi connections to the more than 15,000 military and civilian personnel at a costs that are comparable to those on the local economy and much enhanced security for the privacy of our soldiers. 10% of the gross proceeds of BABTEL's operations are returned to the US Military for the Morale and Welfare of our soldiers deployed.
Since 2004, BABTEL has been establishing reliable and secure communications for US Military contractors and soldiers serving overseas. Whether deploying VoIP, Internet, first WiMAX network in Baghdad City, or Microwave Line of Site links in Afghanistan, we have successfully integrated a state-of-art technical solutions, including long range WiFi telephony and data bridges, virtual PBXs and VoIP telephony that connect our customers to the rest of the world through a single gateway at our Philadelphia NOC with the highest quality of service, security and privacy. Although we still use VSATs to access the international telecommunications network in expeditionary markets, our unique commitment to protecting the privacy of our subscribers combined with Babtel's customer support, provides our customers a full range of easy to use telecommunications without having to invest money costly network infrastructure or the ongoing costs of recruiting, protecting and paying their own in-house technical staff.
We are currently working on addressing the integration of rapidly deployable telecommunications systems with solar power and hydroponic farming into a single life support system for the eradication of infectious disease in Africa.
Chairman of the Board
Mr. Donald E. Zilkha is a Co-founder and Managing Partner of Sciens Venture Partners, L.P. Mr. Zilkha is responsible for fund raising, provided leadership and a strategic direction of portfolio development, transaction analysis and execution, monitoring and interaction with portfolio managements for SVP I. Mr. Zilkha has more than 28 years of investment and merchant banking experience. He was Managing Partner of Sciens Capital Management, LLC. He founded Zilkha & Company and was involved in all of its investments.
Before founding Zilkha & Company in 1986, Mr. Zilkha spent five years at James D. Wolfensohn, Inc. from 1982 to 1986 with various responsibilities from mergers & acquisitions to general partner of the venture capital fund. Prior to joining Wolfensohn, Mr. Zilkha begun work at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company in 1973 where he assumed positions of increasing responsibility working in Brazil, France and Germany, eventually sharing responsibility for the mergers & acquisitions department of the Bank in London. He serves as Chairman at New Colt Holding Corp.
Mr. Zilkha has been Director of Electronic Retailing Systems International Inc. since 1993. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Wesleyan University. Mr. Zilkha served as a Director of Advanced Interactive Systems, Inc. He earned a BA from Wesleyan University in 1973, where he studied economics, philosophy and history.
Chief Executive Officer
Chris is a seasoned entrepreneur who began his career in 1979 by founding an international trade company with warehousing, freight forwarding, satellite telecommunications and civil engineering operations in Europe, Asia and Africa.
In 1995, having spent close to 20 years abroad, Chris returned to the US to found Skyway Partners, the first in the US triple-play building-centric Local Exchange Carrier Network, which serviced apartment communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and which was eventually taken over by one of the largest landlords in the region.
2001-2003 he owned and operated Subscriber Networks, an early Application Service Provider for property owners of multiple dwelling units (MDUs) that operated their own voice, video and data networks. In 2003, Chris traveled to Iraq in search or a new business venture and in a short period of time formed BABTEL, a company which won an AAFES contract to build a managed IP network on one of the largest US military installations in Iraq. Chris managed that network until the withdrawal of the US troops in 2008. Chris’ activities in Iraq have been detailed in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and he has been featured on the Voice of America Radio network.
Chris spent most of 2012-2014 working independently as a consultant for several companies in Afghanistan. During that time, has also developed a menu of new commercial applications for Cloud-based network services, which BABTEL has deployed in CAS and AUAB Qatar.
Chris remains a COO of BABTEL; while splitting his time 50/50 between Qatar and US. Chris received his BS in International Trade and Export Marketing from Syracuse University in 1978.
Megan Johnston began her finance career at Bank of America’s credit department while working through college. She comes to us with a degree in general studies and a minor in finance. In addition to her education and experience she has numerous accounting software certifications, and audit training.
Based on Megan’s finance experience she became Operations Manager for a telecom company, directing all finance and operations. She left the telecom company to work for a publicly traded media company as Director of Operations. In Megan’s director position she managed the company’s financial and operational tasks, including all financial reporting and audits required for public companies. After leaving the media company Megan spent eight years as a controller and financial consultant for multi-million dollar businesses.
Megan lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Kennett Square, PA.
Mr. Catranis is responsible for network and solutions architecture. Most recently he led the design of the Al Udeid Air Base, USAF and the Camp As Sayliyah, US Army commercial internet networks, both located outside of Doha, Qatar.
Mr. Catranis worked for Brandywine Technology Partners during 2012-2014 as a Senior Network Engineer in a consulting role handling network infrastructure related design, implementation, and troubleshooting as well as on-boarding and ongoing network management of managed services clients.
He worked for Babtel starting in 2005, beginning at the Lebanese Regional Office. During the Iraq War he installed and maintained over 16 bases with VSAT networks and oversaw Babtel’s construction of the Telos Corp’s WLAN for the US Air Force at LSA Anaconda.
From 2008 to 2011 he served as the lead Network Engineer for a ISP contract at Joint Base Balad, heading up network design and operations for one of the largest bases in Iraq, 40,000 troops and contractors at its height.
Mr. Catranis holds the CCNP, CCDP, CCNA-Voice, ITIL, VSP and VTSP certifications.