With a commendable 8% share in the fixed telephony market, an enviable 20.7% share in broadband and a far-reaching 31.2% in ‘triple play’ (Internet, cable TV and fixed telephony), according to end-2015 data from the Telecom Regulator, Cablenet is now looking to break into the lucrative business sector with cloud and personalised services.
At the same time, as technology progresses and software development is crucial, the company, 51% controlled by Malta’s GO and with a turnover of €27 mln last year, plans to reinvest more of its profits back into the company, while keeping an arsenal for potential takeovers, including start-ups.
In an interview with the press, Cablenet’s two prominent figures, founder-CEO Nicolas Shiacolas and Chief Commercial Officer Periklis Theodoridis, said that immediate plans include investing more in infrastructure to offer connection speeds of up to 1 Gbps, while also migrating fixed line networks to all-fibre designs.
Cablenet's market share is commendable, despite the fact that you are only a ‘triple play’ provider, as opposed to your major rivals that are quad-play providers. Do you have plans to enter the mobile market aggressively? Surely, if you want to attract business clients, quad-play would make you more competitive.
We are in fact already offering mobile services for some niche markets through our Lemontel brand. We are currently working very hard to finalise our systems, from both a commercial as well as technical standpoint, to be able to offer our services to mobile consumers in general very soon, hopefully within 2016. Our existing retail customer base shall first have the capability to enjoy value-for-money services resulting in significant savings, as part of our new 4-play bundle products. At a later stage we will be developing scalable/flexible services for the business sector.
With GO Malta increasing its share ownership to direct control (from 25% to 51% after conversion of a €12 mln loan), are there any plans to rename Cablenet to GO Cyprus?
At this point there are no plans for renaming Cablenet.
Cablenet’s brand is well recognised in Cyprus and enjoys strong customer loyalty. We regularly carry out market research that confirms that the Cablenet brand has a very high NPS (Net Promoter Score). We do not foresee that a change in name will be happening in the near future.
What are the synergies between Cablenet and GO ever since the Maltese company took a 25% stake in 2014? Is there any cooperation with GO's parent company Emirates EIT or any other subsidiaries (e.g. Forthnet)?
GO’s acquisition of a majority shareholding in Cablenet (51%) did not bring about any immediate impact on Cablenet’s ongoing operations. Our investors have repeatedly stated that Cablenet is a well-run business, which continues to perform strongly in the market, delivering steady growth in both revenue and EBITDA. We certainly see potential for future initiatives however, and in the medium to long term, Cablenet will definitely benefit from belonging to a larger group, within which there may be a number of synergies.
The main immediate benefit for Cablenet from the investment was the funds injected into the company. These funds were and will be used further to improve our core competencies (network expansion), as well as for new products and services. Another major area of investment is international capacity, the very lifeline of our Internet connectivity. Over the last two years, due to the massive success of our Internet packages, we have seen a rapid growth of new customers and we have increased our international connectivity by about 300%. We will also be investing in new advanced voice systems and of course we will be launching our mobile services very soon.
Recently we launched our Cablenet Business Cloud services in cooperation with BMIT Ltd, Malta’s leading data centre, cloud and managed services provider, a wholly owned subsidiary of GO.
GO being a quad-play operator, also means that they have vast expertise in mobile telephony; this can benefit Cablenet in the near future, when we will be ready to engage in this area.
In a recent statement, GO Chairman Deepak Padmanabhan praised Cablenet’s "double digit growth in both revenue and EBITDA". Can you elaborate?
Cablenet indeed is financially-profitable company with a high level of sustainability. Since it is a private company, financial statements are not publicly available. We can confirm however Mr. Padmanabhan’s statement that in recent years we have been experiencing very strong growth as a company.
Will the Business Division need to hire more people?
It is indeed in our plans to expand the Cablenet Business sales team by hiring more people. Today the sales team consistsof 14 people and we have projected for six new posts in the future until 2017. The Cablenet Business sales team handles the sales-to-commissioning cycle as well as the key account management of business and corporate customers.
What is Cablenet's "advantage" in the Business area compared to its rivals - is it Cloud services?
Our key differentiator is the focus Cablenet places on the business sector and on providing all-round solutions to businesses’ telecommunication needs. It is not by accident that Cablenet is one of the most dynamically developing companies in Cyprus. With Cablenet Business, a whole specialised department is constantly trained and developed; our sole purpose is to help take any business to the next level in terms of connectivity and to stand by its side on its journey to success, converting the communication needs of today into development opportunities and added value for the future.
Cablenet is a leading and contemporary organisation, the only privately-owned completely independent telecommunications provider in Cyprus, with its own network, new generation infrastructure, specialised workforce and a fully integrated support system for high performance services in the telecoms sector: integrated broadband services, premises connectivity services on both local and international levels, fixed telephony services and of course cloud services and hosting services.
Communication is not only about high quality technology infrastructure; it is also about interpersonal relationships. We invest in human resources with just as much commitment, resulting in a fully functioning personal support system for business customers. We recognise the true value of interpersonal communication and are aware that each business has its particularities, which is why Cablenet Business is equipped with highly skilled and proficient professionals who design business solutions based on the specific needs of each organisation, irrespective of size, and are always there to make any necessary adjustments.
For the modern-day businessman, technical support is as important as the quality of the telecommunication services he receives. Our promise for continuous and personal communication is achieved via a holistic and up-to-date support system available at all times to all Cablenet Business clients. Additionally, every Cablenet Business customer has an open line of communication with us via our dedicated 120 call centre.
Can you elaborate on Cablenet's market-share targets, based on Q4 2015 data from the Telecom Regulator?
We have no pre-determined target for market share. We currently cover about 180,000 homes or 60% of households on the island. So even if we target for an effective 50% market share in our area of coverage, that translates to an overall market share of only about 30%. Of course we have plans to expand our coverage to other areas, such as rural Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca, and eventually to Paphos, over the next few years, so naturally our expected market share should increase.
Seeing as Cyprus and Malta are both leading maritime economies, does the Cablenet/GO partnership plan to provide services that are custom-made for the shipping community? (Sat com, on-board wifi, etc.)
At this point there are no plans to develop custom-made maritime products. We are strongly focusing in providing electronic communication services on land, with both fixed and mobile. One of the key ingredients of our success has been our focus on doing just the things that we can do effectively and efficiently. Such custom-made maritime services require a lot of specialised know-how, that companies other than Cablenet are much better positioned to deliver.
What is the "next step" either for Cablenet? Where is the technology headed?
The technology behind telecommunications is constantly evolving, at an ever-increasing pace. Any company in the telecom sector that fails to keep up with this technology change will be left behind. Therefore, we are constantly investing a significant part of our profits into new technologies. Our immediate target is to upgrade our cable network to the next protocol for data delivery over cable, specifically to DOCSIS 3.1. This will give us the capability to offer connection speeds that can reach 1 Gbps. Also, increasingly, fixed line networks are migrating constantly to all-fibre designs. This is something we are pursuing too, by constantly evaluating the types of network that we roll out into green field areas and by improving our existing network into deeper fibre architectures in brown field areas.
Aside from the infrastructure, every company is a software company. This is an area where we as Cablenet are heavily invested in, by having a significant and active development department for the company’s internalsystem needs. This is probably the area that we would be looking to invest in by acquiring other companies, including potentially start-ups.
Source: Financial Mirror