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Tariffs, call quality and provider purchase. How Vodafone lives after a change of ownership

The main points from the first conversation of CEO of Vodafone Olga Ustinova with reporters after purchasing an operator by a company from Azerbaijan

Today, the first press conference of Vodafone CEO Olga Ustinova was held after the purchase of the operator by the Azerbaijani NEQSOL Holding. The official reason for the meeting is that the company extended the agreement with the British Vodafone for another 5 years and will retain its current name.

Will the management of Vodafone change after the deal? The interlocutors of LIGA.net in the telecom market did not exclude such an opportunity. But the company itself was assured: new owners and old tops along the way. And new owners associate strategic plans with the work of Olga Ustinova.

What changes in the operator will the change of ownership bring, what will be the average bill of a subscriber and what is agreed with Vodafone?
LIGA.net made a short summary of the conversation with Olga Ustinova.

About a new contract with the British Vodafone
The new contract has been expanded. We got the opportunity to conduct a series of international technological and technical audits of our network in order to prepare our network for 5G.
I can say that brand fees have not risen.

About the average check for mobile communications
We invested UAH 25 billion in 3G and 4G and are now approaching the 5G investment phase. In my opinion, this and next year ARPU (average check per subscriber. – Ed.) Should be about $ 3-3.5. We analyze neighboring countries such as Poland, Belarus, Georgia and others – in Ukraine now the lowest average check. If we want to have a powerful infrastructure in Ukraine, it needs to be upgraded.

About difficulties during the sale
There were no difficulties, everything went smoothly.

About changes in connection with the change of ownership
There will be no significant shocks or changes in the strategy of our behavior in the market. We are now preparing for the implementation of 4G in the 900th range, covering roads, cities and villages. The process is in full swing and the company’s operations do not interfere.

About plans to purchase an Internet provider
We are currently holding a lot of strategic sessions with the shareholder regarding a fixed business (wired Internet provider). We ourselves understand that it is necessary to go there. But transparent rules of the game are important to us.
It is very important that this is an absolutely law-abiding white company that pays all taxes.
Yes, we are looking closely, but now I can’t talk to whom and how. Options can be different: from purchase to your own construction site. Or both. You know how many operators there are in Ukraine. Now we are trying to understand what strategy to choose to enter a fixed business.

About the change of Russian billing
Yes, we still have the old billing system, but we can use it for another four years. But now we think what to do with it. This is a strategically important issue for us.
We have two options: either we will develop it ourselves, or use the development of other manufacturers. While there is no solution, but for 4 years we will use these solutions, because stable work is important to us.

About retail strategy 
We continue to develop retail and see a certain sense in this. Until now, about 40% of our subscribers use push-button telephones and we want to transfer them to smartphones as soon as possible.
The number of stores will not increase. We have invested everything we wanted and believe that this is basically enough. About 400 franchised stores we also do not plan to close, but we will bring them to standards. We have not yet reached the payback of retail. When will we start profitability? When will the market be “bleached”.

On attracting a loan of another $ 500 million
There are no such plans yet. You need to understand what they can be spent on. (Previously, the company has already attracted 500 million loans, but received permission to raise $ 1 billion)

On the quality of communication in Western Ukraine
True, we had problems with the network several years ago, but in recent years we have actively invested in this region. In addition, obligations to the state require LTE coverage for 90% of the population. Accordingly, in Western Ukraine will be all that is needed.

About the tender for frequencies of 2100 MHz
This is for the most part the frequency for capacitance. Yes, they are interesting to us. In the next two years, we are quite comfortable with the frequencies that we have, but everyone understands that the main asset of the operator is the frequencies. In any case, this is an important topic for us.
These frequencies are interesting for increasing capacitance. But this issue is not on the agenda as the most basic. Whether this will be this year depends on the regulator.

About risks for a company in the Ukrainian market
The main risks that we see are the dollar. Because the equipment that we purchase is in dollars, and from subscribers we get hryvnia. But we have been living in this situation for seven years and we have already learned how to manage it. Many foreign companies are surprised how to invest in such conditions.

On the effect of coronavirus and a possible crisis
Let there be a crisis, perhaps there will be inhibition, we went through this. But we do not expect that this will affect us very much, because the market has not yet recovered after the crisis and we see that it should

About 5G in Ukraine
In the world, the first 5G cases are the transition of private LTE to 5G. But in Ukraine there is no private LTE case yet. Then the question is: why 5G?

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