The FINANCIAL -- Silknet, the leading Georgian telecommunications company, is working on providing further comfort for its subscribers.
According to Bacho Chinchaladze, Chief Commercial Officer of Silknet, last year the company significantly increased the number of its fibre optics internet and IPTV subscribers in the retail segment and continued steady growth in the enterprise segment. Silknet expanded its reach with fibre optics networks launched in Kutaisi, Batumi and Telavi and focused on offering IPTV outside Tbilisi . The main challenges were to deliver the network expansion hand in hand with rapid subscriber growth while maintaining and increasing the service quality.
Q. What new opportunities and projects did your company offer to customers last year?
A. From the day of its opening, Silknet entered the telecommunications market with quite ambitious plans. At the moment it is the leader of the market. The company’s main characteristics are innovation and multi-functionality. Silknet offers its customers several high tech products at the same time, including telephone, internet, interactive television, Wi-Fi services and mobile connections. The services are always being refreshed and updated with different actions and improved conditions. Our infrastructure gives us the opportunity to do this. To make Silknet services available in all parts of Georgia, the company is constantly implementing optic technologies.
We were the first to introduce interactive TV - Silk TV - on the market and changed the attitude of consumers towards cable TV forever. In addition, we have a complete telecommunications service - fixed and wireless telephone, international code 10-16, mobile network to S1.
Q. How many internet subscribers does Silknet have?
A. Within the country Silknet internet is used in more than 60 cities. The company Silknet is the leader of the internet market and holds more than 45%. Nowadays the number of subscribers is more than 220,000.
Silk TV has 90,000 subscribers and 500,000 telecommunication subscribers.
Q. How does your company manage to compete with the other companies on the local market?
A. Our infrastructure gives us the opportunity to make all of the services available in Tbilisi as well as in the regions. And, first of all - internet services. From the very first day of the unique product being available to customers, Silk TV has become very popular. This is TV broadcast with the function of rewind. At the moment together with channel broadcasting, Silk TV offers subscribers a licensed movie video library, karaoke, plus home school function where all twelve school year programmes are available. All of the services offered are what make the company competitive. Silknet offers complex service to its subscribers as well including internet television and mobile communication. Subscribers can receive the service in one combined package.
Asides from all this, the company Silknet has the stable trust of consumers. Our company’s name is connected with such cultural and educational projects as Tsinandali Museum and the famous magazine National Geographic. As you know the company Silknet was the founder of the Georgian edition of the National Geographic. This is a very prestigious activity of high responsibility. The magazine is published in 17 languages and is published in more than 100 countries. With the help of Silknet this magazine now has Georgian circulation. The first issue of the Georgian language version was published in October 2012. For the popularization of the magazine, Silknet offers its customers the chance to subscribe to the magazine in cheaper, easier and more convenient ways. All Silk TV subscribers can subscribe to the magazine without leaving their homes, simply by pushing an integrated button on their TV menus.
Silknet also supports the concept of healthy living. From the day the company was first founded, it has been the main sponsor and partner of the Georgian Ski Federation. This is a good example of partnership between the private sector and a federation. A few years ago it was impossible to imagine the success that Georgian skiers have since achieved. This sport needs exceptional support, starting from the training base, skiing equipment and trainers’ training. The Federation and our company have decided to make the sport as widely accessible as possible and make it even more popular with the younger generation, including in the different regions of Georgia. We already have sportsmen from the mountainous regions of Adjara, Gudauri, Bakuriani and Svaneti. A successful tournament of the sport would be unimaginable without the participation of Silknet. We consider it to be a long term investment. Generations need to grow up still. Much work and good organization is required in order to achieve success in this. We financially support the organization of the sport. The aim of the Federation is to have a million Georgians on skis, and we are backing this.
Such a wide variety of activities increases the fame of the company and people’s trust in it. Our customers know that together with qualified telecommunication services they can become participants of many interesting and entertaining projects.
Q. What is the average number of S1 mobile phone users with Silknet and how popular is this product?
A. S1 is a very popular service. The package on offer appeared to be popular mostly with those subscribers who are users of Silknet telephones. Subscribers choose their preferred terms of service. S1 has a free internal network and has discounts with other network connections. It’s a very comfortable service for subscribers. They can talk with unlimited tariffs in or out of the house and don’t need to pay for the cost of phone calls. Silknet’s mobile service has 40,000 users.
Q. Which is the most popular product at Silknet?
A. Despite the fact that the highest number of subscribers use the so-called Home Phone service, the most dynamic and fast-increasing subscriber base belongs to SilkTV and Silk Optics. This service was launched in 2011 and is steadily developing.
Q. In which districts of Tbilisi is fibre optic internet available at the moment? How easy is it to switch from DSL internet to fibre optic?
A. Silknet is the only company on the market which has 100% optic service FITH. Optic network subscribers have the opportunity to choose service packages from 5 megabytes a second to 100 megabits. At this stage 80% of Tbilisi uses the optic network. With the entrance of Silk Optic, all of the telecommunication services became active in Batumi, Kutaisi and Telavi. Silknet continues to cover the regions with optic networks to make the technology available in the regions of Georgia as well.
Q. What is the company’s long term development strategy?
A. Silknet’s long term strategy is to keep a leading position on the constantly changing and increasing telecommunications market. Our aim is to offer consumers all of the telecommunication service and technology which makes their lives easier and makes their activities more diverse. We will take in to account each of our customers’ and partners’ demands and keep on implementing innovations in line with them.
Q. Silknet was awarded in several nomination categories of Golden Brand 2012. What does this mean for the company, to be named among the best?
A. Golden brand is one of the most prestigious business awards ceremonies in the country. It’s important that this year, as in 2011, the prestigious Golden Brand award was given to Silknet and we have become winners of several nominations. Consumers appreciate our hard work. Silk TV and Silknet internet are developing on a daily basis and becoming that much more available. Therefore this nomination is a big motivation and big responsibility for us at the same time. The company is actively engaged in developing service centres.
At the moment the company has 3,200 employees.
Q. How did the year 2013 start for your company? How successful has it been compared to last year?
A. We have just offered our customers an anti-virus service. Our customers can subscribe to the relevant service from the website myaccount.silknet.com and undergo proper registration procedures.
Customers can receive free 24-hour technical assistance at http://support.kaspersky.ru/support/contacts. We also have a new ‘dream’ package for our customers. It gives a permanently-growing internet speed without cost increase. People in Tbilisi can also use the offer that lets them buy notebooks in several stores with discounts in the event of signing a six month contract with Silknet.
In the regions of Georgia we offer customers any speed of internet package for GEL 20 and as a prize - 2 themed packages of SilkTV. We implemented international SMS in the S1 network and added British Council English language lessons to our Home School programme as an introduction to British culture for viewers.