Interview of the General Director of ALBtelecom, Dr. Mustafa Resit AKDOGAN
The use of the Internet has increased massively recently in Albania (now 20% according to Internet World Stats), but still we are very far from the average of countries of the region (without mentioning European countries). How do you explain this low spreading, as your company holds the major weight in this market?
It is true that Penetration of the Internet with wideband (broadband) and fix telephony in Albania is lower than the European average. In our view t he main reason is that before the privatization of the telecommunications the investments in Telecommunication sector were not in the right level. However, with the rapid big investments that our company has done after the privatization phase in the Internet service sector, compared with regional countries and those European ones, has been a rapid increase of the number of subscribers and penetration. With committed investments especially in the last year has been a noted increase in the number of subscribers and of the customers that have trusted to the services provided by ALBtelecom, fix telephony and internet.
What remains particularly problematic is especially the low number of broadband connection. At this point In what level is your company? Which is the total number of your customers? How many dial up clients are how many broadband connection?
After the privatization process, ALBtelecom has increased investment and accelerated investment plans. In fact over 50 percent of existing customers use Internet with wide base and the clients are subscribed to this service and have chosen to believe to the services offered by ALBtelecom, taking into consideration the quality and the speed of the service that we offer in the market. Because as a result of quality services and serious investment committed in this way, compared with the privatization period the number of our subscribers is approximately 40 times bigger, running in a total of over 50 thousand subscribers. Meanwhile a serious investment in this way is the internet service provider with wide base for almost 2017 schools in all Albania, within the project (Internet in schools). While I want to insulate the fact that calculating the rapid growth of the number of subscribers and the growing interest in internet technology and added value services, during the year 2010 we will reach in the average of other European countries. Just beginning by these components that I mentioned above, the difference of Albania with other developed countries will be minimized.
The other Provider that receives from you the Internet lines note that prices remain high? Is it expected these prices to be reduced? Do you think that this will be reflected to the reduction of prices for services towards the individual?
ALBtelecom based on market conditions has provided and continues to offer their services either to firms (provider), as well as individual clients with appropriate prices and better quality. But without any hesitation it is important to accentuate that actually ALBtelecom offers the best quality Internet service on the market. The International Internet exits from different points are realized in 100% backup measure, through optical fibres.
Which are the services and prices that ALBtelecom offers?
ALBtelecom offers the best services in the market as in fix telephony and internet services too, mainly ADSL services, dial-up Internet, dedicated Internet, national circles, etc., prepaid cards, ISDN etc. Not wanted to dwell on details of prices for large range of services we offer, I can say that the applied prices by us are most competitive in the market. But on the other hand, for categories of products and services we have applied economic packages and offers for our clients. Knowing the quality of the service and taking into consideration their expectations, our clients had the possibility to benefit from the continuous reduction of prices of many products.
The prices of Internet service in the market have been decreasing, but still remain high. Which is the reason?
ALBtelecom values and consider as important the market conditions and standards of the region and actually therefore provides Internet service that begin from more appropriate prices to the cheapest one. I think it is important to notice the fact that compared with the period before privatization; we have applied price discounts from 50 to 85 percent. Meanwhile, through successive campaigns and offers, we have offered to our clients such opportunities such as 2 months of internet service, modem and free installation, which are a good opportunity for them. In this case, it is appropriate to notice that even for the year 2010 we plan and are working to provide internet service with much lower prices.
AITA also talks about the absence of the orientation of the education system towards IT, as well as absence of qualified professionals. How much does your company feels the absence of qualified personnel?
The ALBtelecom staffs is composed by people with long experience and special experience. Having intended to increase personal and corporate development and delivery of quality services many times more numerous for our clients in specific areas have organized trainings, seminars. In this direction we have created all the opportunities to our staff. On the other hand, we are offering to our company human resources and distinguished qualities individuals and with value in the market.
According to statistics, the investments in the Information Technologies are low. According to you who should do more in this context, companies by itself or the state?
The Increasing investment in technology is a task not only of the state and private firms, but of every citizen living in this country. Government should not only encourage the companies and more investments in this direction, but also to facilitate all procedures related to practices and permits. While the private companies, to enable the achievement of required standards in technological knowledge in Albania, should make the necessary investments. ALBtelecom is trying and is investing in significant volumes and important at the same time. We have prepared and are applying projects and the investment plans to send Albania in the position it deserves that has to do with the information`s technology. During the year 2009 we increased with 25 percent the capacity of network. ADSL capacity is increased about 64 fold. On the other hand are execute serious investments in NGN technology (Next Generation Technologies)
How do you see this market in the coming years?
The telecommunications is a very nice service, as for those who provide this service for clients too. For us as ALBtelecom the main goal is to provide a fast service, with quality, without interruption and to provide value-added services and with economical prices, and in this way to satisfy our customers. We think that the future of this sector in Albania is very open and that exist the opportunities for other innovation. There are enough players in the market to create a competitive environment. I think that competition between these actors of the telecommunications market will be reflected to the base that are the final consumers, enabling them different services with convenient prices.
"Monitor" Magazine, 21.12.2009