In an interview for ‘Nine O’Clock’, mobile phone operator’s CEO Liliana Solomon notes that getting out of crisis will take time and anticipates telecom industry will re-size this year.
In your press release including 2009 Vodafone Romania financial data, you said results had been consistent with expectations. What was the strategy you chose to pursue in order to mitigate the economic impact during the year of crisis? (The latest announced financial information is for the 3rd financial quarter covering the period from October 1 to December 31, 2009).
Since we operate in a difficult economic context, on a market marked by a general consumption decline, by mounting competition and regulations that have a major impact on income, we can say we have managed to mitigate the impact of all those factors on our operating results to a significant extent through the cost-effectiveness programmes we implemented in our company. Those programmes allowed us to continue to invest in developing network by launching the HSPA+ mobile data services – the next technological level in the industry. Another priority is to stay focused on customer needs during this difficult period for all of us, as well as on improving quality at all points of interaction with the Vodafone brand. We will continue to work on optimizing our brand in the next period.
Since you took over as head of the company, have you noticed any change in the profile of Romanian Vodafone customers?
One certain thing is that users’ needs have grown and diversified and our permanent concern is to have a supply adjusted to all customer segments, each with their specific requirements and needs. The mobile data services have been greatly adopted in recent years and will continue to be one major line in the development of our portfolio.
The less favourable economic context in the last months has made users more careful about controlling their costs and caused them to optimise their expenses. In that respect, Vodafone has continued to release new types of subscriptions and offers to meet consumers’ current telecommunication needs in terms of both cost control and suite flexibility/variety.
Which customers and in what proportion have been more receptive to services in the portfolio of Vodafone Romania (for both mobile and land line phone services), individuals or companies?
Vodafone is always eager to offer communication solutions tailored to the needs of its customers – both individuals and companies – who will always find what they need in the Vodafone portfolio. In what regards our business customers, we are happy to learn from recent surveys that we have increased our competitive edge and market share in the segment, remaining the favourite operator of that particular category of users.
From your experience in telecom, how do you expect the mobile telecommunication market to develop in Romania compared to other countries in SE Europe in 2010? What could be the crucial factors in your opinion?
Each market has its own particularities, therefore the comparison would be irrelevant. What we expect to see in the course of this year, though, is a re-sizing of the telecom market and economic circumstances will be essential for the development of our industry. As I have already said, I believe crisis will be over, but the process will take time. At this point it is far too early to make any predictions on trends in the economy this year.
Local telecom competition stays tight. What is Vodafone’s strength in 2010?
Our priority will still be to offer consumers and corporate clients the best and most affordable telecommunications services, while preserving the element of innovation that has always been a feature of our activity. As for data services, we wish to offer a superior experience at good rates in line with the rest of the market. Last year we grew data transfer speed to 21.6 Mbps, which was three times more than the best the market had to offer at that time. The launch is a new stage in Vodafone’s mobile broadband strategy through which we seek to build the best-performing mobile data network in Romania and give our users mobile data services at the highest quality standards. We will continue to innovate and invest in the Vodafone network in order to be able to give Romanian users the best quality at widely affordable prices.