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Turkcell aims to avoid data gap with 3G

25 ноября 2009

Turkcell is reaping the benefits of 3G, and will be able to sidestep the revenue gap affecting other operators as data usage grows, according to Köray Oztürkler, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Turkcell.

Speaking to Mobile Europe shortly after nine month results showed revenues dropping year on year, Oztürkler said that the operator had been affected by a triple whammy of severe economic slowdown, reduced termination fees and hard-nosed discounting from competitors.

 “We saw the implementation of number portability in November 2008, and then in February this year Avea introduced a very aggressive tariff. Allied to this, we have seen a 60% decline in mobile termination rates (MTR) in two years, and MTRs now at 70% below the EU average,” Oztürkler said.

“We suffered from macro volatility both globally and in Turkey, where GDP shrunk by 6.5%. But our results were in line with expectation and we are looking towards 2010 now,” he added. The operator is aiming for 10% revenue growth in 2010, aided by a forecast 3.5% growth in Turkish GDP, and for an “improving” EBITDA situation.

So what is the reason for optimism for 2010? Quite simply it lies in 3G, which was launched in July 2009, and now covers 81 cities and 65% of the population, with HSPA+ coverage in major indoor environments such as shopping malls, according to Oztürkler.

Turkcell is already seeing a remarkable shift in data usage, with total mobile internet volume growing from 50TB to about 225TB since 3G launch in July until the end of September. That number is likely to be much higher again, given that the operator has also sold 200,000 iPhones since it launched the handset on 26 September.

“I think 3G really will be a positive for us,” Oztürkler said. “We are excited by it and have great expectations for it. We expect to add an additional million notebook, laptop and dongle users, and 6 million additional 3G phone subscribers, in the next year."

The operator expects data ARPU from a modem or embedded notebook to be about TRY24 and about TRY 4 from a smartphone.

But can Turkcell close the revenue-data usage gap that other operators have seen - where growth in data useage is not met by growth in overall revenues? Oztürkler thinks so. He argues that Turkcell is in a different competitive situation to other markets, with poor DSL penetration and weaker mobile competition.

 “We have opened a new door in our business with 3G,” Oztürkler said. “ It may not have been such a good opportunity for other operators three to six years ago, due to high implementation costs and early standards. But Turkcell is using the latest technology, giving us an advantage over fixed broadband, and with no better competitive offers available in mobile broadband in terms of price and technological capabilities.”

Oztürkler also argued that Avea and Vodafone have seen the folly of dropping prices, having witnessed the destruction of their own margins, and predicted that the rival operators would not continue the price war.

The operator knows it will need to keep investing in its network, despite a doubling in Capex last year.

 “We doubled our capital investment this year to $1.6 billion, with $1.3 billion of that in Turkey, including the license fee which was $462 million. We have plans for investment in 2G and 3G next year, but we will not have the license fee, which was a significant sum,” Oztürkler said.

Источник: Mobile Europe

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