FIAA: You have recently rebranded your business from Telekom to One Telecommunications. How is ONE performing in Albania?
Mr. Georgakiev: Yes, we have just introduced our new brand to the public. It took us more than a year of preparations and now I can confidently say that ONE Telecommunications represents a whole new identity, with new values and corporate culture that guide us in all our operations. At the end, those that benefit will be the customers and the society.
Our objective is to become the preferred operator of Albanians, that is why we are changing our approach to the market. We listen to our customers, then give them the communication solution they are asking for. For example ONE Telecommunications offers unlimited tariff plans and handsets on installments – both are products that address the needs of people and we did not hesitate to make them available, even be the first in the market in this regard. At our remodeled shops, everyone can find the tariff plan, the handset, or accessories that best meet their expectations.
Our commercial plans are backed by agreements with world leaders like Ericsson and Cognity Starlite Technologies for a complete renovation of our network and IT infrastructure. Today we already offer download speeds of up to 200 mbps in most of the country, 7 times better indoor coverage and a safe network.
From a financial point of view, we managed to change the declining trend of the company’s performance from previous years. 2019 saw an increase in our retail revenues and EBITDA and we expect 2020 to be a better year, even if only slightly than the last one. The main challenge of the coming months is to cope with the unpredictability COVID is causing in all sectors of business.
What are your impressions of the business operating environment in Albania currently?
Generally the market is small and there are times you struggle to find the right person or company for a certain task. Other times you may have issues with the quality of a delivered project. I believe this is all due to market size and competition. This applies to telecommunication as well – too many players for such a small market, leaving limited space for companies to invest in new technology and service quality.
Regulation in our business follows EU regulation but at a more practical level, construction of base stations needs an updated set of rules, if we wish to experience the new generation of mobile technologies in Albania at the same time with other countries of the region.
What are your investment plans for the next 2-3 years considering the New Reality we are living in?
We are in the middle of a radical investment of 92M euro focused on our network and IT infrastructure. When completed at the end of next year, it will provide ONE Telecommunications with a network of better performance, capacity and resilience. Ultimately we will have the best network in Albania!
At the same time, we are monitoring the interest of the public regarding 5G. As soon as there are sufficient incentives and the appropriate legal framework, we will start rolling out the 5G signal.
Given the place technology is taking in our society and the increased presence of 5G will have in our everyday lives, we are heavily invested in the protection of personal data. Our efforts in this field have been recognized by US Department of State and ONE Telecommunications is the first operator in the region to join the 5G Clean Path initiative.
How are you focusing on cost savings?
Efficiency is our top priority, starting with proper solution planning and ending with fair and increased competition during the procurement process to get the best end results. We are focusing on our core business, which is mobile telephony and trying to become better every
day. The current pandemic has made this even more difficult, but we managed to go through its immediate phase in spring without affecting our operations and above all our employees. I am confident that ONE Telecommunications will implement all its projects and become the preferred operator of Albanian and the best working place in the country.