Ufone has upgraded its 3G network in Lahore which also spans across smaller cities (Sheikhupura, Kasur) that are connected to this provincial capital. The top man of the company is of the view that it is the customer who has to get satisfied and it is important to determine what he wants from you.
Strive to improve the consumer experience from the number 4 operator by subscribers starts at a time when Mobilink-Warid merger has been transformed into a new name “Jazz,” and there is a cutthroat competition among telcos for selling data and the voice at the cheapest possible rates.
Ufone has completed deployment of enhanced 3G services in Lahore. The company has invested millions of dollars in their network and covering two basic things: Doubling the capacity and significant improvement in coverage. They believe that this investment will significantly increase their coverage and internet throughput (speed) in Lahore.
The CEO of Ufone Rainer Rathgeber had an informal chitchat with a group of telecom journalists in Lahore. He along with his core team, hosted the lovely evening while commenting on the state of Ufone at present and issues that telecom industry faces today.
Rainer, who is inspired by the old culture of Lahore and keen to visit the historical city, is convinced that today customers are tired of millions of offers and day & night packages which are impossible to remember.
“Ufone wants to be very simple and remain focused on the needs of telecom consumers. It is the speed of internet and clarity of voice a customer needs to experience, and our only focus is to enhance that experience,” shared Rainer
“We were getting ready for months and tested our new technology up-gradation in various smaller cities before we hit Lahore. We wanted to ensure that the mega city should get seamless service”, Rainer added.
The company seems to have put customer experience on top priority, and for now, it has channelized all spendings towards network improvements. Rainer believes that merely spending money on ads that only talk about so many offers is not meaningful unless supported by quality service. He said:
“All our cell sites have been converted to 3G keeping up with Ufone’s reputation of being the only operator with 100% cell sites being fully 3G enabled in Lahore.”
Rainer was more cautious about announcing any future rollout, but he hinted that soon other cities would be added.
However, the CEO was vocal enough to highlight the issues telecom industry is facing at the moment in Pakistan. To him, Pakistan is the craziest of the markets he has worked throughout in his career. The prices for telecom services are extremely low, and the taxes are highest in the world making it impossible to further invest under these circumstances.
“If you want to blossom this country with infrastructure, you need money. Things are taxed heavily, and there is nothing significant left to invest. Competition has led to low prices which is good for people in the short term but on a long term, there is no investment because there is no income. The best thing to do is to create a healthy balance from all sides. In Pakistan, there is a much more room for making things better.
He thinks that industry should make use of $800 million which are lying with Universal Service Fund. It is the money that telecom operators have contributed, and it should be spent on building the infrastructure of the benefit of the consumers.
While talking about SIMs and increase in the number of subscribers he said,
“There is a huge difference between a customer and number of SIMs that an operator can boast about. Selling a SIM is different from having a real customer. We are not happy with being number 4, and we will go up, but we can’t grow by throwing away our SIM cards for no value. There is an old way of gauging the muscle of a player by the number of SIMs it has activated. In reality, a huge chunk of SIMs today in the industry is not making any revenue. Luckily PTA has stopped this practice because it’s similar to dumping”.
Rainer hinted that revenues of telecom industry are just back to a position where they were in 2013 after a long dip and hence sensible business plan can further ensure the growth.