Elena Georgieva: BTC Would Be More Flexible with Private Owner

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | January 2, 2003, Thursday // 00:00

Ms Elena Georgieva is Chief Director of "Corporate Policy" department in the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company. She has worked in the company since 1984. State-owned Bulgarian Telecommunications Company has lost its monopoly over fixed-line telephony January 1st. BTC is currently embroiled in litigation after the choice of Vienna-based Viva Ventures as preferred buyer of the telco was contested in court.

Ms Georgieva spoke with Martina Iovcheva

Q: Do you expect the emerging of real competition for the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company over the next months?

A: Actually, BTC has had competitors for at least two years now in the VoIP sector. This is allowed under the current law with a delay of the voice of over 250,000 m/s. However, these regulations are not being observed and that is why phone calls with a much smaller delay are offered on the market. This is actually real competition of BTC.

We suppose that this competition will continue especially if our prices are not re-balanced. I mean if the city calls are much cheaper than anywhere in the world and the prices of the international calls are relatively high. That is why there is competition now.

We expect to have bigger competition in the cable operators sector.

Q: Are there conditions for another telecommunications company to start construction of a parallel network to the BTC one?

A: Actually, there are such networks but these are primarily networks that are set up in separate towns. There is no such network that extends over the entire country. However, in general, all currently existing service providers and operators rely on the BTC network and do not construct their own infrastructure.

Q: What measures does the management of BTC envisage to keep its market share now that the company has formally lost its landline monopoly?

A: First of all, we will aim at re-balancing the prices. This is a process that we began four or five years ago. This process cannot be implemented fast since in Bulgaria the ratio of the prices between the intercity and the international calls prices is too far from the world standards. This is one of the measures to normalize the market, which will on one hand allow for good behavior and presence of other players and on the other hand will defend the positions of BTC. That is a very important measure for us.

Another important measure is the improvement of the company's services quality primarily via digitalization of the network on low level. We believe that we will achieve 45 percent digitalization in all cities next year, which will lead to better quality where we are more or less a leader.

We will also introduce new billing system, which will allow for more flexibility. We will continue with the "personal attitude" policy towards the corporate clients.

The company would have become more flexible if it had a private owner instead of a state one. We believe that there is still room to improve the flexibility of the company, optimization of the company's staff and reduction of the expenses.

Q: What are BTC commitments for the implementation of the market liberalization?

A: They are listed in the telecommunications bill that I suppose will be discussed in Parliament in January. Under the bill, BTC loses its landline monopoly as of January 1st, 2003. The company also has to have Reference Interconnect Offer, which is an agreement for connection with the rest of the operators licensed by the Telecommunications Regulation Commission. These offers will be public and will be identical for all. Currently, BTC has such agreements with the licensed mobile operators and the data transmission providers. That is why this agreement is not very new for us. The difference is that it will be public and will comply with the EU requirements and the Telecommunications Regulation Commission.

Q: Should the clients of the company expect drastic changes in the prices?

A: Nothing drastic will take place. All changes are being made in a reasonable manner so that our clients do not feel the prices changes. We continue to provide social packages for those who cannot afford to pay high subscription. The re-balancing of the prices will take place gradually as it used to be done so far. Our clients can rely on better attitude and better quality.

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