23:36 | 30.03.09 | Interviews | 4291

“You don’t need to constantly watch the sun to make sure that it is in the sky”

Interview of Boris Demirkhanyan, General Director of “Cornet-AM” to Mediamax news agency and Itel.am portal

- Last summer, “Cornet-AM” announced that it had completed the first stage of building a network by WiMAX wireless broadband access technology. What were your company’s achievements within this half a year?

- The building process cannot be completed, this us a deeply dynamic process. In fall, 2008, WiMAX wireless broadband access network was launched into commercial operation, but just as everything new (and WiMAX technology is of that kind), it requires improvement and detailed adjustments, and most importantly, it should find its deserved place in the market of services of the given group. One can say it for sure that no matter how complex the given process is, WiMAX network from “Cornet-AM” is a part of telecommunication structure of Armenia as of today and, to my mind, this is the most important achievement of our company in that period.

- What is the coverage zone of “Cornet-AM” company’s WiMAX network in Yerevan and Armenia today, and what plans are the basic ones for the company for the current year? How many stations have you installed and how many do you plan to?

- The coverage zone of the network is our main pride. Since the market of telecommunication services is liberalized, quite a large number of companies, offering services by wireless broadband access technology, appear and will appear in the market. But neither of those companies takes upon itself the risks, related to provision of services in the regions of Armenia.

“Cornet-AM” Company’s network is really national, since one can equally use the services of accessing the network both in the capital city, where the offer is traditionally higher, and in 18 largest towns of Armenia. One can work in an office in Yerevan, have a seminar in Tsakhkadzor, have a rest on the beach of Lake Sevan and not feel any difference as to the level and quality of the used service. Name a single company that can boast the same…

All those capacities are secured by 24 basic stations today. The prospect of installing new basic stations depends on the loyalty of the users towards our company, as well as the level of the demand for services in the regions, were we are not yet represented now.

- What is the volume of investments you have already made and what are your investment plans?

- We have already invested over $4.5mln into the project, and this investment became possible only due to the fact that we are a part of a largest telecommunication group “Comstar-OTS” OJSC. However, I would assess the aggregate investments somewhat higher: how and using what scales can one assess the contribution of the company’s specialists, who day and night worked hard over the realization of the given project for over a year? Always, talking about investments, we mean their expression in this or that currency, but, believe me, one cannot assess the contribution, which pioneers make. Concerning investment plans, I can say that the question is not the volumes, but the tasks, which the market sets for you. From this point of view, I can say that the volume of planned investments will be adequate to the tasks, which we are set.

- As opposed to your competitors, also working by WiMAX technology, and making loud statements about themselves recently, “Cornet-AM” does not promote itself very actively recently. What is the reason?

- You don’t need to constantly watch the sun to make sure that it is in the sky, do you? We successively realize tasks, which we are set. My deepest conviction is that one should make statements only when there are quality changes. When the “critical mass” is achieved, you will naturally learn about the fact.

- What directions of internet access, besides WiMAX, remain priority ones for your company?

- All directions, which are priority ones for our customers, both current and potential ones, represent priority for “Cornet-AM” Company. By the way, WiMAX is first of all transport to provide services to our customers, where it is necessary. 

- Your company has already received number capacity from PSRC to render services of fixed connection. When do you plan to attract the first subscribers and what factors will make them choose you, and not the “veteran” of landline connection market – “ArmenTel”?

- Before attracting subscribers, one needs to solve a set of issues, which, in the view of their specifics, are not trivial, since there is no experience in solving those issues, there is no common understanding of the processes. We work over this jointly with all the players in the telecommunication market, and no matter how complex the process is, nevertheless, sooner of later, the issues will be solved and then one will be able to take up formation of offers in the market. And, finally, who said that something should “make” customers choose this or that company? You think that someone “made” our compatriots choose this or that mobile connection operator, when the given segment of the market was liberalized? Believe me, one should not make anyone do anything and there is no point in that: the users will make their choice and this is the correct approach, since the point of competition is this.

- One gets the impression that despite the economic crisis, the sphere of internet this year will be developing in Armenia rapidly. Do you agree to this opinion?

- There are certain things that are characteristic to people irrespective of macroeconomic or political tendencies or situations. There can be no doubts for the fact that internet market will be developing, however it seem to me that the crisis will however introduce particular corrections and the growth will not be as rapid as we would like it to be. Although, let I turn out to be the biggest pessimist…

- What are the advantages of your company that will remain competitive even despite the growing competition? What are the main “strengths”, which are unavailable for other participants of the market? 

- In principle, sooner or later all companies of the “same weight category” enter the same level of certain “uniformity” as to the range of provided services and a certain balance of tariff policy. At present, our main advantage is the opportunity to provide services almost in all territories, where over 60% of Armenia’s population resides, and we will be trying to expand our presence for those 40% of the population not to feel themselves deprived. Our advantage is also in the attitude we have towards each customer, their tasks and problems. I believe that not every company can boast loyalty of the customers, who are “with you” for over 8 years.

- Usually, the growth of competition leads to decrease of prices. Is this statement applicable for today’s market of internet services in Armenia and will the pricing policy of your company undergo corrections?

- The given statement is true in a certain context. Competitive struggle really influences the prices in the context that it stimulates optimization of pricing structure, introduction of new technologies, and, as a result, this leads to decrease of tariffs for users. On the other hand, any tariff consist of a few constituents and at present the lion’s share of the prime cost, in case let’s say of the service of internet access, represents the cost for international access and connection channels. The volume of the market also has strong influence on pricing, and this is already an economic factor. But, in any case, prices have a steady tendency towards decrease and I believe that the given tendency will be preserved up till a definite level.

- How well the internet services market of Armenia is regulated by the legislation? Is there necessity for better regulation?

- The market of internet services in Armenia is a market of free market relations. I believe that this is its significant advantage, which, in particular, is the factor, pushing investors to realization of quite ambitious projects in the republic. It seems to me that the regulatory bodies have chosen a deeply weighted policy of point corrections, the fact being extremely important. I believe that if there is the necessity for deeper regulation of processes, the legislation will adequately correct the situation.

- Recently, publications on the possible merger of your parent “Comstar” Company with MTS connection operator have become more frequent. Do you find conceivable such a scenario with the participation of “Cornet” and “VivaCell-MTS”?

- I am only the General Director of “Cornet-AM” CJSC, who is responsible for operational processes of the company. It is more correct to ask the shareholders of the Company such questions.