Telemach Slovenia Taking the Lead in More Market Segments
Foto: Žiga Intihar
Slovenian braodband market is a very competitive one, since there are four strong operators with its own infrastructure, said Adrian Ježina, CEO at Telemach Slovenia, in an exclusive interview with ICT Business. We spoke with Mr. Ježina about Telemach's position in the Slovenian market, business results and investments and other interesting topics.
Telemach Slovenia became the first broadband service provider in Slovenia. How did you do that and what did it take to achieve growth in the broadband segment?
Telemach Slovenija is part of United Group, the largest telecommunications and media operator in Southeast Europe, strategically focused on reliability of the service, quality of the content and excellent user experience. Through significant investments in digital infrastructure, content and technology, it provides leading innovative services to customers across the region. Together with satisfied, motivated and committed employees and also great financial support of the Group by which we are able to grow organically and inorganically we were able to succeed. Telemach Slovenia's market share in the field of broadband internet is constantly growing, and at the end of last year, after several extremely successful years of growth, with 30.8% we took 1st place in Slovenia. This is an exceptional achievement. Indeed, European alternative operators who overtook former monopolists can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
We are all the more proud of this achievement because we have succeeded in a period of pandemic, great challenge for the whole society, especially for telecommunication operators.
As a telecom operator, you work in all four segments of fixed, mobile, Internet access IPTV. What were your business results in recent years, how much growth has been achieved in individual segments? (REVENUE, EBITDA, EBIT, ARPU, ARPL, churn ...)?
In the last few years our market share grew on all of the segments. At the end of last year we maintained the first position in video content with 38.5% and fixed telephony with 33.8%, took the first place in fixed broadband with 30.8% and grew to 23,6% in mobile.
Our revenue CAGR is 4,3%, our EBITDA CAGR is 8,3% (average growth over the last two years).
Which segments have grown especially in recent years and why?
At Telemach Slovenia, we are growing in all segments. Besides our recent achievement – becoming the biggest in fixed broadband, for many years we have been the fastest growing mobile operator in Slovenia, and at the beginning of the second month we have reached an important milestone - 600,000 users. Our mobile packages are considered the first choice in the mobile segment because they are very simple, transparent and rich. Since we follow the group’s strategy of being innovative, flexible and agile, we are upgrading them constantly. The group is customer-centric oriented with a strong focus on customer experience – improving the services for existing as well as new users. All this is recognized by our users.
Since we operate within United Group, the leading provider of telecommunications services and media in SEE, it is not surprising that in recent years we have also occupied the top spot among Slovenian providers of paid video content.
With the intention of providing the best service and constantly offering something new United Group built its own development and innovation center United Cloud with more than 200 developers, UX specialist and other tech experts. They work around the clock to innovate and constantly upgrade our services. In this way we can always understand our users’ needs and provide them the best user experience possible. As part of their research and collected data, our own platform EON was introduced in 2017 (first as a multiscreen app and later as the EON Smart Box) and it is constantly being upgraded.
Besides reliable and customer friendly platform, users also want rich content, which United Group can certainly provide. United Group has developed a leading content business called United Media, which produces and broadcasts more than 45 top Pay TV channels across the region (sports, news, entertainment, movies, kids).
What is the position of Telemach Slovenia on the Slovenian telecom market today?
Slovenia has four strong national operators with its own infrastructure, which makes it one of the most competitive markets, especially due to its size. Despite this, Telemach Slovenia is taking the lead in more and more segments. As already mentioned, we are a leader in the field of fixed internet, the largest provider of video content and fixed telephony, and for several years the fastest growing mobile operator.
Following the Groups strategy, our focus is on reliable and quality network in which we constantly invest, most advanced and innovative services, rich content and great user experience. To achieve this, we also need to have employees which are motivated, dedicated and great experts. This is a bullet proof guarantee of further success.
For the past year United Group is strategically focused on user experience. By measuring employee satisfaction we get the necessary information that we use for constant improvement. We are proud that our employee satisfaction and NPS are constantly growing. This is the biggest compliment for the employer, but it is also a fact that satisfied customers and the result of satisfied employees.
How much has Telemach Slovenia invested in which segments in recent years? How much do you plan?
We invest in all segments, and are especially focused on digitalization, technological progress, network, new and innovative services and rich content. The technology is changing very fast and our customers are more and more demanding. We are aware of that, so the Group constantly monitors the needs of users, new technologies and trends in the global market.
United Group operates in eight countries – serving a market of nearly 40 million people – and with strong connectivity, synergies and extensive investments we can further strengthen our business, offer joint services and develop areas in all segments.
In 2020, solidarity was even more in the forefront than before. United Group donated more than 3 million dollars to purchase medical equipment in the region. Local companies helped also as much as possible.
We have not forgotten the difficulties that distance education presents to many socially disadvantaged people. For this purpose, more around 300 students were donated tablets and Internet access by Telemach Slovenija.
Across the Group we share a commitment to being a responsible business. So we will continue with our socially responsible activities in the future, being a positive influence on the communities we serve and making a positive impact on people’s lives.
What do you expect from a 5G network?
We are committed to helping fast digital transformation and secure the region’s digital future, which is why we are continuously investing both in networks – both 5G and fibre optic and skilled employees.
5G technology is the next step in the development of mobile technology. Upgrading is necessary because the capacity of existing mobile networks is limited and mobile data transmission is increasing exponentially. By switching to 5G technology, we will be able to continue to provide our growing number of users with impeccable service and the best user experience. 5G technology will bring benefits in many areas, both for the individual and for society, the economy and the environment. It will enable superfast broadband and extremely reliable communication with low latency, huge hardware communications, high reliability / availability and efficient energy consumption.
Although when we talk about the 5G network, we first think of smartphones and other mobile devices, but there are many other fields that will use 5G technology. The development of the new generation of mobile telephony is also aimed at improved support for machine-to-machine communication or so-called Internet of Things (IoT), which will accelerate the spread of smart technologies, automation and autonomous vehicles in the future.
Unfortunately, in these areas the predominant use will be to increase capacity and speed while industrial application due to the shortcomings of such types of large industries will be very limited at the outset and will grow as the area of application / service develops.
The development and dynamics of the introduction of new technology will affect the new services that we will of course offer to the users, because we want them to always be in step with world trends.
What is the pressure of OTT and others on broadband infrastructure?
It has always been known that alphabet and Facebook data take up more than 50% of their data traffic, but some other global players like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, etc. are actually growing. Everything is becoming multimedia, and video itself is the biggest consumer of the data.
The pandemic has definitely accelerated the transition to the digital world and most things have started to work en masse online such as distance learning, distance work etc., where again some players like Zoom, Teams, Webex, Skype predominate… So definitely the pressure is growing by increasing the format from SD to HD and then 4K and the number of connected devices and applications that use video. That pressure will only increase.
Of course, that is why we invest in the network in a timely manner so that users can have a good user experience using our services and through our broadband internet and all available services.
You have an interesting solution - a virtual shop. How successful is it?
The situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic required quick reactions, which was not a problem for us. United Group has digitization written in its genes. We have adapted the work processes to (partial) overnight closure, and since the way of life in society has completely changed, we have prepared several excellent solutions for our customers, such as a virtual shop, live chat on our website, voice signing, online bill payment. So we made sure that users can edit everything online. However, in the case of a virtual shop, it should be emphasized that this is not a live store, but a 360-degree view of our branch, in which our services, devices, promotions, instructions, contacts, etc. are presented in a very interesting and innovative way. We follow trends and, together with our United Group colleagues, we are constantly working on new methods to simplify and improve the lives of our customers and offer them quality, innovative and affordable services.