Interview with sales managers: Henry Locarno and Thanaphol Sutharojana from Indonesia and Thailand.
How long has Sofrecom operated in Indonesia and Thailand?
HL: Sofrecom started working in Indonesia in 1976. For 36 years it has cooperated with the World Bank and supported the government and most local telcos. In 1994, we opened offices in the center of Jakarta with local personnel, it’s a real advantage, since perfectly integrated to ecosystems, we understand our customers' needs.
TS: Sofrecom has operated in Thailand for more than 10 years. Over these years, we have earned credibility and legitimacy through our consultancy work for one of the country's biggest operators. We have provided supports nationwide for the design of "Customer Care & Billing" reliable services for landline subscribers, and recently we won a consulting contract for a local 3G rollout.
What is your vision of the regional market? What are the major trends?
HL: Indonesia has the world's 4th largest population with over 240 million people. Its average annual GDP growth is around 5%. The young, well-educated population (92% adult literacy) is enjoying rising income, which is generating high demand for Internet access. The mobile penetration rate is already 112%. The popularity of mobile services and the decline in data tariffs have helped to drive mobile broadband which is certain to benefit in future from increasing uptake of smartphones.
TS: Thailand has seen strong growth over the last few years. The mobile user base reached 79 million in 2012 with 113% overall penetration. Much work remains to be done on reform with Thailand’s new regulator NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) to boost the high speed nationwide. One forecast valued the country's ICT market at US$16.8 billion in 2012, up more than 10% over one year, with mobile data the key growth factor. The big mobile operators have started their trial 3G services. Broadband Internet is growing annually at around 25%, and smartphones and tablets are booming as users are seduced by new apps.
What are the main challenges faced by players?
HL: Despite its growth, the entire telecommunications industry in Indonesia is under pressure in a very competitive market. Operators need to monetize data traffic and maximize profits linked to the data traffic enormous increase. They should consider introducing innovative services and monetization strategies to stay on top of the competition. They must find ways of giving their customers an outstanding experience and offering the latest innovations in the most cost-efficient way.
TS: Thailand's leading players have faced many regulatory issues. Regulations and government policies have great impact on the telecoms industry, especially as regards networks. The government has shown its determination to modernize this sector by supporting many projects. The economic efficiency and the network capacity are key elements for an operator to remain competitive. An ambitious "Smart Network" program has started with government backing to develop modern network infrastructures (notably optical fiber) and connect 80% of the population by 2015, and 95% by 2020. Sofrecom is able to draw on Orange's experience of fiber and its expertise in the design and operation of high-speed networks in order to help the country's operators roll out modern networks cost-effectively.
HL: In Indonesia we will continue driving innovative telecoms services, particularly fixed-line and mobile broadband. Technology extension and competition will generate demand for our strategical consulting.
More specifically, operators need to conduct strategic network and services projects involving challenging transformation, optimization and technological modernization. It’s the core of our know-how. This requires the high level of expertise that Sofrecom has acquired through its long international experience. Launching and monetizing digital services is also an ambition for all operators. Here again, Sofrecom with the backing of the Orange Group is well placed to address this key challenge.
TS: Our main priority is to help operators to efficiently respond to market needs with innovative solutions based on 4G/LTE technologies and data centers. We also want to develop our new Capacity Building offer, an original and global program to accelerate an operator's transformation by liberating collective intelligence within his organization. We will also be working hard on the MVNE platform and e-government services.
Sofrecom's expertise will also appeal to cellular operators who are trying to cope with exploding data traffic, which will require heavy investment in new technologies (4G, LTE, …). This involves both developing very high speed networks, providing access offers and converged services while at the same time creating a complete range of customized services.
HL & TS: We always listen to the feedbacks and the needs and have a thorough understanding of trends. Sofrecom helps companies to define and adopt a localized strategy and to expand their expertise, while ensuring at the same time a competitive approach that takes into account the cultural and market environment. Our understanding of local markets combined with our solid expertise covering all operators businesses is a major advantage, as is our track record in optimizing costs and quality.
We aim to deliver tangible results and long-lasting value by working very closely with the customer and taking all feedback very seriously. In South-East Asia operators need a unique approach combining global thinking and local presence to craft an efficient strategy. This is exactly at the core of the Know How Network of Sofrecom.