Bakcell: Implementation of Mobile Number Portability project may start next month – INTERVIEW

Bakcell: Implementation of Mobile Number Portability project may start next month – <font color=red>INTERVIEW </font>
# 07 September 2012 08:57 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Nijat Mustafayev - APA-Economics. General Executive Director of Azerbaijan’s first mobile operator Bakcell Richard Shirer shared his opinions about future technological novelties and improvement of the network with APA-Economics.

- What was the difference of current year’s activity of the company compared to last year? What novelties did the company realize?

- Last year, our main success was the launch of “3G Sür@” service. At the same time, we have continued our efforts in direction of rising the network’s quality. The results of the test trials conducted at the year-end showed that our company has the most sophisticated and high-quality network in Azerbaijan.

Moreover, along with broadband internet, we have launched CINeration product, considered for the youth. I also can add that the majority of the country’s youth use our services.

We have reached financial goals, even exceeded them. During the past period of the current year, the number of mobile and broadband internet users has increased. In Q1 of 2012, we have launched two main products, one of them is ƏlaCİN, another – DoğmaCİN. Those products were successful.

- Within this year, Bakcell intends to spend AZN 70 mln to application of technological novelties, establishment of new base stations and other such works. Which achievements could you get at present time on account of this investment? How many base stations were established this year and generally, how many base stations the company has?

- Currently, in order to improve the network, we have switched from macro projects into micro projects, that is, Bakcell is installing indoor equipments, for example in Crystal Hall, Flame Towers, Port Baku and several other famous hotels and business buildings of the capital. The Ministry of Communications and IT awarded us an honorary order for our woks in Crystal Hall. In London, we were honored with Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award. At present, the main part of our investments is being directed to installation of indoor systems.

As to base stations, we have installed nearly 200 new base stations in the country and the total number of Bakcell’s base stations has exceeded 2,200. As it is, the main issue is not in the number, but in their capacity and quality of services.

- After successful launching of 3G service in Azerbaijan, Bakcell company plans to launch 4G, too. On what stage is this issue at present time and when will subscribers able to use this service?

- During BakuTel-2011 international exhibition, held in November of last year in Baku, we demonstrated LTE (4G) service as a current network. And it shows that Bakcell is ready to launch the mentioned service in the country. But I would say that application of 4G service depends on frequencies. At present, the frequencies given to Bakcell by the Ministry of Communications and IT are used by Azercell company. In order to apply LTE technology we are waiting for emptying of these frequencies. I would like also note that, currently, mobile devices supporting 4G technology are a little in Azerbaijan. If the number of these devices will increase, Bakcell will start to apply 4G service. As the most of devices on the market, used by subscribers support 3G, we are widening the coverage of this service. But the company is also ready to introduce 4G service.

- What works has Bakcell company done within the framework of Mobile Number Portability project in the country and what is the current situation?

- Bakcell company has completed all works within the framework of this project and at present, the company is absolutely ready for the mentioned project from technical viewpoint. When all other mobile operators in the country will be ready, we will immediately apply this project. Testing works are underway with one of the operators. The project is expected to start in October, 2012.

After the application of this project, we expect the number of subscribers will increase enow. In general, the application of this project will reduce the number of persons using dual SIM.

- How many subscribers has the company at present time and how many increase had been recorded compared to last year? Currently, how many Bakcell subscribers are using 3G service? What is your forecast about the number of subscribers by the year-end?

- The current number of company’s active subscribers is above 2.6 mln. Compared to last year, the number of our subscribers grew by 10%. At the same time, nearly 2 mln from 2.6 mln subscribers use 3G service, and 1 mln of them are permanent 3G users.

According to forecasts, if Mobile Number Portability project is applied this year, the number of subscribers will increase by the end of the year.

- The company regularly offers discounts on roaming tariffs. Do you plan to reduce prices in this direction in future? Will the price cut cover internet services too?

- Tariff reduction depends on the situation on the domestic and foreign markets. I think that Bakcell reduced prices for calls and internet services within the country enough - our subscribers happy. For comparison, I can say that the price of mobile Internet services in Azerbaijan is about 3 times lower than the UK.

At present, our main goal is to improve the quality of the network, improving service quality and develop the brand in general.