Let us all connect
Everything will be connected in the not-too-distant future, says Markus Golder, chief commercial officer at Go.
Q: Three months after your appointment as chief commercial officer, what are your impressions of the Maltese telecommunications market and Go’s performance?
A: The Maltese telecommunications market is very competitive and Go has come a long way, transforming itself into a customer-centric business. It was the first operator to launch quadruple play services combining fixed voice, internet, television and mobile services.
An ever-increasing proportion of Go customers are opting for Homepack, the highly successful bundle of services aimed at satisfying all the telecommunication needs of a household.
The company is not resting on its laurels and has embarked on a €100 million investment programme, which has already borne fruit with the migration of the mobile network to new state-of-the-art technology in the first half of this year, now offering an enhanced 3G coverage and download speeds of up to 42 Mbps.
Besides, Go is the only Maltese communications provider that owns and operates two fibre-optic submarine cable links to Europe.
Q: You have more than 18 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry – what new challenges does the Maltese telecommunications scenario present when compared to other countries?
A: Like almost all incumbent telecom operators, Go is facing competitive pressure in all product lines as well as regulatory pressure.
The limited size of the Maltese telecom market comes with its own opportunities and threats. Word of mouth works very well in a small market, which means news will spread very quickly when you have a great proposition for customers.
However, lack of scale can be a challenge in such a market. Our major shareholder, Emirates International Telecommunications LLC, helps us overcome this.
Q: Like any other businesses, telecommunications is based on trust – how do you plan to keep strengthening your customers’ trust in you?
A: Trust plays a very important role in business. While it is possible to have short-term financial success without trust, sustained business success depends on trust.
In my view, customers’ trust is mainly driven by the extent to which companies deliver on expectations and on what they have promised.
At Go, we have embarked on a customer experience programme to continuously track on how we are delivering on customer expectations across all our touch points and to continuously improve our products, services and processes accordingly.
Q: What added value do you give your customers?
A: Go’s promise is ‘made for you’. We strive to add value by offering propositions that match up with the varying needs of customers and by providing a superior customer experience.
Q: Go has recently become partner of the Microsoft Innovation Centre – what opportunities does this partnership entail?
A: The telecom and IT industries are in the process of converging and technological advancement and innovative business models are at the core of this development.
Together with BMIT, our fully-owned subsidiary that is focused on data centre operations, we are proud to be associated with the Microsoft Innovation Centre, powering state-of-the-art technology facilities and fostering collaboration on innovative research, technology and software solutions.
Q: In the first six months of the year, you suffered a marginal loss in fixed line connection – is this a direct consequence of changing consumption patterns?
A: Malta still has one of the highest fixed line penetration rates in Europe with 96 per cent of households owning a fixed line compared to 71 per cent in Europe, where single households often rely on mobile services exclusively for their voice communication. Undoubtedly, the future of fixed line lies in broadband services.
Q: Do you plan to further widen your product portfolio in the coming months?
A: The next big area of investment for Go is fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). Customers are requesting ever-higher speeds to download movies, smoothly stream videos, upload pictures in a flash and simultaneously power multiple devices in the household.
It will be a challenge to match future demands with the current DSL technologies or cable TV. The industry and governments around the world have acknowledged that FTTH is the only future-proof solution. Go has already deployed FTTH in a number of areas and has an ambitious plan to connect more areas in the months and years to come.
While cable TV providers are relying on a mix of fibre optics and coaxial cable to deliver internet services, FTTH is the only technology that delivers ultra-fast internet on 100 per cent fibre optics straight to the home.
Q: How would you describe the telecommunications industry of tomorrow?
A: Smartphones, tablets and internet-enabled televisions will allow us to be online almost permanently. Our communication will revolve around social media platforms and virtually everything will be connected in the not-too-distant future, starting from devices in our homes and cars.
The telecom industry is undergoing fundamental change and the transformation will have a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. To continue to thrive in this new world, telecom operators will have to embrace new eco-systems with partners from the content industry, device manufacturers and internet players.