Chief Executive Officer of VEON Jean-Yves Charlier visited Yerevan on November 21-23 to participate in global leadership meeting of VEON.
Itel.am talked to Jean-Yves Charlier on VEON policies and prospects in the Armenian market.
- What challenges does VEON face in the Armenian market?
- We have the same challenges in Armenia as in other parts of the world. The main challenge for us is to really focus on high speed data services for customers both in fixed line and in the mobile space.
We see data revenues growing over 25-30% so there’s a huge demand across the world for consumers to connect to the internet and use more digital services.
At the same time, our business is really focusing on new digital services and in 2018 we will be launching the VEON Personal Internet Platform in Armenia. We want to bring to the country the messaging that is truly free even when you’re out of credit. We have already signed contracts with over 150 large global brands that want to be part of application. It’s very exciting time for Beeline in Armenia.
- How is VEON using the advantages of modern technologies, for instance artificial intelligence and blockchain solutions?
-We are starting to use the new technologies, and big data is a real area of focus for VEON group.
But beyond that artificial intelligence is actually going to be the key in the future. We will be able to solve most of the challenges and questions that users can have directly online without having to call to the call centers or go to the stores. There’s going to be a profound transformation and I think that VEON is one of the groups that are investing the most in the digital transformation in telecom space.
Armenia is absolutely a strategic marketplace for us. It’s one of our smaller markets but as strategic as our businesses in Russia, Ukraine or Italy.
Today we roll out, new technology, new platforms consistently across one of our markets.
That’s a big change for us. We used to roll up technologies either on a market by market basis and now we do it globally, so Beeline Armenia benefits from all the investments that the group is making.
VEON today is much more than a telecom company, it’s becoming more and more an internet digital company.
- What are the company’s plans regarding incorporation of 5G services globally?
- 5G is still ahead of us. It’s not yet a reality, so we are considering launching a number of 5G trials in 2018-2019 once the equipment manufacturers have the technology ready.
But in many of the emerging markets we are operating in, it’s still about rolling out 4G and fiber networks to allow high quality service.
We don’t see that 5G is going to be transformational for the industry because we need to ensure that fiber and 4G networks are already really well covering the countries, where we operate.
- Mobile and fixed line telecom operators are struggling with declining revenue amid intense competition nowadays. How does VEON confront to these kinds of challenges, especially confrontation with OTT services?
- Our revenues over the world are growing over 3 %. More and more customers are connecting to the internet, using more digital services.
Fundamentally we want to offer the best fixed telecommunications services possible and we are investing heavily to do that. But we also want to compete against OTTs because if the telecom industry does not structure itself to compete against the OTTs, all we will become is someone just providing data services and nothing else. And we think that’s a big challenge for the industry, and we are reinventing ourselves to be forefront on this digital space.
- Before joining VEON, you were in leading positions of various telecommunications companies. What changes and challenges do you see in global communications sphere in the last decade?
-The biggest challenge is that we have reached a natural level of maturity for the telecom industry and unfortunately the telecom industry did not reinvent itself. Across the world most of the markets are no longer on growth. It needs to focus on providing internet to more consumers across the world. In many markets where we operate today, less than 50% of the population is connected to the internet. It’s a big opportunity if the industry can use it.
- What was the last book you recently read?
- I was sailing in Maine, USA, in summer and I was reading a book about lobster fishing. Its name is The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island. What is interesting is that in the 19th century lobster was not considered as a delicacy, so lobster was fed to prisoners in the punisher systems of Maine. There was a law that you couldn’t feed lobster to prisoners more than three times a week otherwise it was a torture. It was a very fascinating book, which shows how the world has changed in the last 2 centuries and how it is changing now with the development of internet.
Narine Daneghyan talked to Jean-Yves Charlier