Romania, among the most competitive European telecom markets in terms of prices


Interview with Nikolai Beckers, CEO Romtelecom & COSMOTE Romania.

Mr. Beckers, you have experienced telecommunications in countries such as Germany, France, Macedonia, Philippines or Indonesia. All this time, what exactly of your knowledge have you already implemented here, in Romania, and what do you intend to do further for maintaining its good performance?
The telecommunications industry is one of the most dynamic of all and this applies to all the countries I’ve been. We don’t have the luxury of time, you have to move fast to keep the competitive advantages. I am a fan of fast decisions.
As a manager, you must oversee a lot of things which are time consuming, without losing speed. If you don’t move fast, you are instantly overrun. I enjoy building a coherent team, which is working closely in an efficient way on precise targets and objectives. Within Romtelecom and COSMOTE Romania, I am already implementing the drive to lead philosophy, the passion for outstanding products, respectively for excellent customer experience.
Further, we will focus on building a strong integrated organization, with a highly efficient and focused operating model, bringing value to our customers and shareholders. Also, we will capitalize our advantage to offer truly integrated customer propositions. We will exploit fixed – mobile synergies, resulting in complete telecom and entertainment services.
You have been representing Romtelecom & COSMOTE on local market for almost a year. All this time, have you noticed any change in Romanian customer profile?
Customers here are very sophisticated and demanding. They are tirelessly looking for integrated services, top quality and last generation products and services, while increasing cost effectiveness. They prefer the one – stop – shop experience. This is why we are continuously working on the synergies between Romtelecom and COSMOTE, as together we are representing a total telecom & entertainment provider – the optimal choice for cost – savvy users and the perfect match for their needs in terms of service, content and coverage availability.
In the first nine months of 2013, the companies you managed reported revenues slightly on the decrease. However, the number of TV subscribers (in Romtelecom case) as well as Internet subscribers/ business customers (in COSMOTE case) had a positive trend. What are your estimations for the entire 2013 fiscal year and what are your expectations for this start of the year?
Information about the financial performance of the two companies for the entire 2013 fiscal year will be provided at the beginning of March. In the year to start, we will make our best to be the operator of choice of even more Romanians.
There are long talks about Romtelecom – COSMOTE merger, a first concrete step was already done by unifying the management teams of the two operators. What is your watch by this move: to be the best, rather than the first?
Our vision is to create the number 1 integrated operator in the Romanian market, with a sustainable position in all segments and geographies, capturing fixed -mobile synergies across the value chain, to deliver customer excellence, with a highly efficient and focused operating model.
Telecom is a business that requires massive investments in order to remain competitive. How do you see the involvement of Romanian authorities, as far as the regulatory and licensing framework is concerned?
Telecoms are an extremely capital intensive business, with rapid technological changes and with strong regulatory setbacks. We have already expressed our concerns regarding the fees on special constructions, as according to our internal evaluations they would have a direct impact of tens of millions of euro over revenues on a yearly basis. The same applies to the decrease of the interconnection tariffs.
Consumer-wise, all these burdens will be directly reflected in the retail prices for the end-users; in order to identify the right balance in these very drastic terms, we have designed an optimal investment plan meant to bring value to both our customers and shareholders.
Our total investments scheduled for this year will amount to approximately EUR 170 M for both companies. COSMOTE and Romtelecom will focus on developing 3G and 4G networks on the mobile side, and on the expansion of the FTTH network on the fixed, as well as on providing even more high – quality TV content for our residential customers. On the business segment, turnkey ICT services will be the priority, with an emphasis on cloud services.
How do you see the local telecom market comparing it to the external one? What is your estimation about the value of the domestic market and how do you see its evolution in 2014?
Romania is one of the most competitive telecom markets from Europe, especially in terms of prices. As advantages, though, it has on her side the size and the potential of the market and the quality of people and their flexibility.
The company does not resume at telecommunication activity, but also combines it with Corporate Responsibility activities. Can you tell us more about this topic, referring to the activity in Romania?
Corporate Responsibility is the commitment of our companies to contribute to global sustainable development, by taking economic, ecological and social objectives into consideration in our decision-making processes, to take responsibility for the impact of our organisation’s activities, by working and communicating with internal and external stakeholders, while at the same time improving the competitiveness of our company.
We are focusing on environment protection activities by planting trees, internal recycling programs or reducing the energy consumption, but we also support organisations that work in the benefit of some disadvantaged categories. Thus, we have different types of Corporate Responsibility programs focused on environment protection, education, society, customers and employees.

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