1. How can you describe 2014 so far: what important changes and challenges have impacted your activity? From your point of view, how has the market evolved?
We have been, for more than a decade, in a very dynamic and competitive market and we have developed our leadership on mobile telecom by always launching innovative propositions and bringing quality and reliable services to our customers. 2014 has been another intense year, with a lot of challenges and opportunities, as well.
Digitalization has definitely been the word of the year, and our bet on 4G began to pay off. With very high speeds, 4G unleashes superfast internet, releasing it from the constraints of a fixed connection. We really believe that 4G will soon change the way people relate with their smartphones. It will transform them into personal devices with multiple functions, from communication to information and entertainment devices, connecting other objects in their universe, just like they did with smartwatches and other wearables.
As a telecom operator, we are at the core of the digitalization. Our aim is to be a digital solutions provider for both private and business customers. Our approach for 4G services includes an entire ecosystem, meant to sustain an easier and safer access to superfast internet. Orange customers can enjoy the widest 4G network, with 78% coverage of the urban population, as well as real average speeds for download of 60-80 Mbps through 4G network and 150 Mbps through the first commercial 4G+ network. They have 4G access included in all current subscriptions, a wide range of 4G devices for all needs and budgets, apps for a secure internet usage and assistance services to help them get familiar with the digital. 4G adoption is in its early stage, but it is obviously faster than in 3G’s case. In 5 months after extending the 4G network, the number of active 4G devices in our network doubled and they continue to grow.
2. What are the results registered by Orange TV so far in terms of audience? How do you intend to develop / promote this service?
Orange TV was launched last year to uphold the changes we have foreseen in TV watching habits. On one hand, there is a demand for high quality image, as there are still customers who prefer watching TV in a traditional way, on their more and more performant TV sets. On the other hand, there are certain segments, especially youngsters, who prefer their smartphones and tablets instead of TV sets and expect a rich on demand portfolio of movies, series and shows. We were the first to focus on multiscreen and on quality - of image and sound, of installation and assistance - in order to offer a new TV experience and we enriched our content offer throughout the year. In mid-September, Orange TV had over 110,000 subscribers, while Orange TV Go was downloaded for more than 800,000 times.
3. From the Romanian consumer’s point of view, which are the main changes that you have noticed regarding the technology usage? What does the Romanian consumer want and need?
Romania is a price sensitive market, but customers are in fact attracted by a mix of factors. In the last period of time, we have noticed the Romanian customer‘s expectations shifted more clearly towards digitalization and a personal approach. As smartphones sales increased, the number of customers going online followed. There are many internet savvies and yet 8 million Romanians are still to discover the digital world. In the same time, as different customers have different needs, there is no one size offer to fit them all. The Romanian consumer wants more flexibility in customizing the offers according to his own requirements. And there are a lot of possibilities for an operator like us to personalize the interaction with the customer, to always provide better services and respond to each of his individual needs.
4. How do you see the future of the telecom market? What are the main directions towards which you intend to develop your business?
The biggest challenges of this year continued to be related to the regulatory measures. The cuts in mobile termination rates and roaming tariffs for EU, as well as the property tax on special buildings had an impact on the entire telecom industry. As technologies change very fast, we must invest constantly in order to sustain the business and to be able to offer customers last generation services. This year, we have continued to invest in order to offer the widest 4G coverage and an enhanced quality of both voice and data services in rural and urban areas through a new national networkrefresh program. Customers in 5 counties, Bihor and Galati included, can already enjoy the improved Orange voice service and highest internet speeds.
In the next period, we will continue with our strategy built for 5 years: strong investments in Romania in order to offer customers reliable and easy to use digital services. The market is very competitive and I believe that, for each service they buy, customers will continue to choose the provider that suits their needs best, offering them reliability and best value.
While in the United States there are 320 million inhabitants and 4 mobile operators, in Europe there are 140 operators for 500 million people. That is why I believe there will be consolidation in Europe. And the future will belong to the organizations that think innovatively, change business paradigm and find the successful combination of technology and customer needs fulfilling.