Interview given by Mustafa Resit Akdogan, director of ALBtelecom
How will be faced the competition by the largest fix telephone company in a fully liberalized market?
The Turkish company, Çalik, which purchased last year ALBtelecom, the fix telephone company, is entering the market in a difficult time. The fix telephone market is now liberalized, after the entry into force of Law No. 9918, dated 19.05.2008, “Electronic communication in Republic of Albania”, which has “withdrawn” to ALBtelecom the exclusivity of fix telephone service. Which are the plans of ALBtelecom to compete in market? What will bring to the consumers the change of ALBtelecom management? The Director General of ALBtelecom Mustafa Resit Akdogan gives answers to these questions for “Monitor” magazine.
How do you evaluate the financial results of ALBtelecom during year 2007 and the first part of year 2008? (Which are the concrete digits of incomes and profits? What are your short and long term commercial objectives? How much are the expected short and long term investments?
As you may know, during the privatization process of companies, there is dropping of incomes and profits of companies going through this process. In this scope, the financial aspect of year 2007 has not been a desired and as required by ALBtelecom. However, it can be said that in the first half of year 2008 are achieved the desired goals. Our short term goal is to provide through a technical infrastructure a fast and quality telecommunication service without interruption and economical one for all Albanian citizens and Albanian institutions. Our short and long term goal is to create the integrated services network of the world and especially the European one and basing on this network we provide far better services in fulfilling the needs for communication for any individual or institution.
What has changed and what will change further for your clients now that ALBtelecom is privatized, concerning prices and quality of variety services?
The appropriate investments for the fix telephone infrastructure and internet services are made after the ALBtelecom privatization. The work is going on for the infrastructure of network layout and transmission. In order to increase the service quality, automatic programs of identification and correction are installed, the service toward clients and the work for the Clients Care Centre has started. During this time, it was possible the tariff decrease up to 80 per cent for the internet service and up to 35 per cent tariff decrease for fix telephone calls. We have especially decreased in a very high percentage the prices for our clients for calls within the network and toward other mobile operators. For example, we have decreased from 52 to 71 per cent the prices for internet installation tariff, and from 60 to 62 per cent the tariff for ADSL service without limit, and 80 per cent the tariffs for ADSL professional service. Concerning the variety of services, actually we provide special services through packages for all our individual or institutional clients. Meanwhile, we will soon present to market new services such as WI-FI service for wireless internet, Smart card phones, KIOSK project and the on-line service provide project for administrative services.
How much is the fix telephone penetration by ALBtelecom in year 2008 and what is your plan for the future
Actually the penetration level in fix telephone market reaches around 60 per cent. We have planned to increase this percentage up to 75 per cent in fall of year 2008 and up to 100 per cent in mid 2009. In order to reach this objective, the investment planning projects and bidding procedures have finished. After having the authorization by local and central authorities, it will finish in the shortest time possible the work for the further network layout.
How can you face the competition in a liberalized market as a result of entry into force of Law No. 9918 dated 19.05.2008 “For the electronic communication in the Republic of Albania”?
Firstly I hope that new law for “Electronic communications in Republic of Albania”, is a positive step for all operators and serves for the telecommunication market development in Albania. I think it is early to speak about the effects this law will have in telecommunication market. On the other side I have to add that The Telecommunication Regulation Entity and Competing Authority play a key role in order to implement this law. We hope that those two authorities will act fairly and enable equal opportunities for all operators in order to regulate and control the market, which will have a positive effect not only for the operators but for the citizens as well.
What is your strategy for the internet penetration increase? How many competitors will be for the ADSL service provides?
In order to increase the subscriber’s number which receives internet service from us, we apply and we will apply a clear and aggressive strategy. The fact that we provide the best quality service of lowest price in state, it makes us the leaders of internet service, representing as such the master part of our strategy. We are sure to say that we are the operator of bet technology, price and quality in Albania. The competition increase of internet service though ADSL, the quality increase and advantageous price application are positive indicators for internet users. Meanwhile, except the quality increase our current and future clients will have other surprises in the future. Our clients can benefit from other products and quality services through ADSL internet service and they will be satisfied with that.
Many alternative operators claim that ALBtelecom prevents the signing of interconnection agreement as it is in the position of sensitive power Organization in market. What is the policy of ALBtelecom concerning the competition with these operators as well as the improvement of relations with them?
We keep a balanced position toward all other operators. We strictly demand a free, fair and equal market competition, to be reflected toward the clients as well. Basing on the idea of making competition, we cannot allow and will not allow the violation by some operators as in the past of laws and regulations defined by Albanian state, through illegal calls trafficking harming the interests of Albanian state and clients. I want to assure in respect to all laws and regulations that ALBtelecom will not allow this type of trafficking and we will ask for our right till the end. Unfortunately some operators still go on this way and attract the attention in another direction through wrong and improper messages concerning us. We are ware of this reality and we have followed all legal ways.
How ALBtelecom does estimates the latter Governmental decree for the adjustment of wholesale and retail market for ALBtelecom?
Firstly I hope that our clients are satisfied and benefit from the new tariffs application of fix telephone, in accordance with the new methodology of tariff determination. In fact, the new methodology for prices has put into a difficult position the active operators in market. The new tariff determination showed the necessity for us to be more aggressive in our objectives and goals. We have an improved and successful strategy in this issue. We will continue seriously, with same success and without tolerance our strategy for quality service.
How do you estimate the position of AKEP in the framework of new Law approval, as an organization of electronic communication regulation?
Our relations with competing authority have been and will be on the right way through considering the AKEP role as regulator in our telecommunication operating sector. Time after time we had meetings and contacts with AKEP chairman, Ilir Shehu. In fact the duty of this institution is serious and difficult one. We believe that AKEP after any new law or publication of tariffs methodology will undertake necessary initiatives which will serve for the development of an equilibrated, fair and healthy market and will publish soon the undertaken initiatives.