Alexander Dimitrov: Mtel Becomes A1 and Remains an Innovator

Our ambitions is to be the first telecom in Bulgaria that will offer the 5G technology

Alexander Dimitrov: Mtel Becomes A1 and Remains an Innovator

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Alexander Dimitrov has been the Chief Executive Officer of  Mtel since 1st October 2015. He has more than 15 years of experience in the telecommunication sector. He joined the team of Mtel after leaving Vivacom, where he had been the Chief Commercial Officer from 2008. Earlier, from 2001 until 2006, he had been the Commercial Director of Germanos Telecom Bulgaria, and from 2006 until 2008 - the Chief Executive Director of the distributor of telecommunication products and services. He holds a Master’s degree in Electrical Machines and Apparatus from the Technical University and a Master's degree in Management and Marketing from the University of National and World Economy.

Mr. Dimitrov, Mtel is now A1 Bulgaria. What changes will this rebranding bring to the clients of the telecom?

Many things will change for the clients and I believe that all of them will be positive. I would comment on two of the more significant aspects of the decision for a brand change.

On the one hand, this is a decision of our owners - the world’s fourth largest telecommunication group - America Movil, which owns A1 Group. Part of the strategy of America Movil is to unite all of its companies under one name in order to have stronger and visible presence on the European market as a leading telecom. A1 is currently the most successful brand of the group, that is why it was decided for all companies to be renamed this way. We are the second country that accepted this name after Slolvenia; there, the rebranding took place in 2017. Being part of such a large group has many advantages for both the employees and the clients. It means fast access to the latest technologies and innovations, equally high standards of service, sharing knowledge and experience in the most innovative areas of digital lifestyle. Our parent company has hundreds of millions of clients and a presence on three continents. Investments in technological innovation are also being made at our headquarters in Mexico, Austria, and Sofia, which gives us access to these innovations much earlier than other companies that are not part of a large group.

The second aspect is local, it has to do with our 23-year history. Everyone knows our company, but most people relate us with mobile services. Yet, we are a lot more than a mobile operator - we offer Internet, interactive and satellite TV, own TV content, cloud and digital services to private and business clients. What is more, over the years, we have consolidated companies like Blizoo, Spectrum Net and Megalan, but some clients still think that these are separate companies with different services. That is why we will use the rebranding to remind that we continue to be the leading telecom on the market, that we bring the novelties, and that being a part of a large telecommunication group allows for a different and a better way of working. We will announce that we are changing the company while listening to our clients more. With an even better attitude towards our clients, we will give them the opportunity to take advantage of new technologies and manage their products and services more easily by ensuring quality networks, ease and convenience.

What new services will you offer as A1 Bulgaria?

We will continue to be the market’s innovators and challenge ourselves and our clients to new experiences in the Digital Era. A1 will be much more than a mobile operator or provider of television and Internet services, it will be each clients' partner in the world of new technologies.

The first promise to our clients is to ensure the quality of our network. The investments made over the years give us confidence that our network has excellent coverage and quality. That is why the first promise to our clients is that we can guarantee for the quality of our network. This means that each client will be able to check the quality of the network wherever they might be, they will have the opportunity to measure its indicators and give us feedback whether they are satisfied or not. If, for one reason or another, there are doubts or complaints, we will compensate for this inconvenience with 500 MB of mobile internet.

The second promise is that we will make technologies accessible, easy and useful to people. We currently have the best application for fast and convenient bill payment and service management through our self-service portal My A1 and on the A1.bg site. Through them and other services we make the work and the entertainment of our clients easier and more complete.

The last promise concerns working with us; we will ensure loyal attitude, ease and convenience for the clients. It sounds vague, but we will change many things in our customer service - a more understandable invoice and a transparent contract, connection with us on *88 within 60 seconds, recovery of services within 6 hours and installation of new services within 3 days, better repair and customer services for all our products.

At the very start of the brand, we will offer Bulgarian clients a one-month trial period when buying a new service. Within this period, the client will have the opportunity to try the service and if they are not satisfied to cancel it without any commitment or fee. We believe that this way we will demonstrate our confidence in the technology on the one hand, and on the other - our new clients will be able to experience the quality of the services offered by our company, part of the A1 Group.

Will there be any administrative changes for the clients related to the change in the name that concern contracts or data?

There will be no administrative changes for our clients. They will keep all current terms in their contracts, their mobile number, sim card, the only difference will be that they will see A1 instead of Mtel. We hope that only one thing will change for the better - the experience and the way we work with our clients. I have already mentioned the self-service application My A1, which offers  many options - changing the subscription plan, activating and cancelling a service, checking consumption, paying a bill. We will continue to work on developing all of our service channels in order to offer the highest quality on the market.

You recently introduced 5G technology for the first time in Bulgaria. When do you expect it to be available to Bulgarian clients?

We were the first to demonstrate 5G in Bulgaria, as we did earlier with 4G, 3G and 2G. Of course, we have the ambition and we will be the first operator in Bulgaria to offer the 5G technology.

Our expectations are that in Bulgaria we will have the first 5G clients in 2020 if some mandatory conditions are met. The first one is the network. Our network is now ready for 5G and we can easily make the necessary upgrade when the time comes.

Secondly, there must be an appropriate regulatory framework, i.e. the Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) has to release appropriate frequencies so that the 5G technology can be used. And thirdly, manufacturers must be ready with the introduction of 5G devices. There is something else here - the standards of this technology have to be specified. It is expected that, by the end of this autumn, we will have clear global standards by 3GPP * for the necessary devices and their technical characteristics.

Until that happens, what investments in network development are you planning?

Until now, several billion BGN have been invested in the development of our network and business in Bulgaria. Only in the recent years, we have invested between BGN 120 and 140 million per year, mainly in three directions. First of all, for the improvement of the mobile network, and at the moment practically the whole country has 4G coverage. In addition, all settlements with more than 1,000 inhabitants have the so-called 4.5G, which provides the possibility of a speed of 150 megabits per second. The second direction is optical infrastructure. So far, we have more than 16,000 kilometers of optical network and we will continue to develop it. We have fixed network coverage in more than 40 cities and more than 90 towns and villages. We plan to add between 50 and 100 thousand households connected to the Internet each year. The third direction is our TV platform, which will be upgraded with a new interactive service that will allow for many new functionalities.

Read More in Economy Magazine`s issue 83 - May/June 2018

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