Q&A: Dumitru Vlad, director, Telekom Romania Wholesale

Dumitru Vlad, director of Telekom Romania Wholesale, speaks to Capacity’s Jason McGee-Abe about is T-rebranding and strategic pillars, which include its goal to reach two million FTTH connection

The market is still calling you ‘the Romtelecom team’. How did the T-rebranding influence the way you are operating internationally?

Telekom Romania Communications is part of the Deutsche Telekom group, which owns 54% of the shares, and the other 46% is Romanian state-owned. The key challenge for Telekom Romania was by far the integration of its fixed and mobile operations under T-brand.

Initially designed for the mass market, the rebranding proved to impel also the wholesale segment on some of the major strategic lines of business.

We are now backed by the group’s strong coverage and partnerships. We are doing our best to leverage as much as possible the synergies between the affiliates, while keeping Telekom Romania’s international business autonomous.

What have been your key developments so far in 2016?

Having a privileged geo-strategic position in Europe, bridging the east to the west, we were focused on deploying via strong intra/extra group partnerships a terrestrial +5Tbps DWDM/MPLS network over four redundant legs from Sofia up to Frankfurt via Bucharest, reaching Istanbul, London and Amsterdam via key European PoPs.

This year we’ve started operating the latest generation of DWDM technology via a strong partnership with DT affiliates which brought us a great differentiator through its routes and 100/500G transport technology.

Voice business is still one of the main drivers, despite the decline of this segment. We’ve managed to keep the profitability stable, getting double digit growth in volumes year over year by developing new markets such as Africa, Asia and Middle East. We have also developed the international inbound services and started reselling difficult-to-reach destinations such as Serbia, Bulgaria, and Moldova. 

Another key development pillar for us is delivering SEE regional connectivity for the global enterprise segment. We’ve deployed more than 20 direct NNIs, including the top 10 global enterprise players, and deliver L2/3 premium connectivity in Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine via our standardised MEF CE2.0 network.

What are your priorities this year?

This year our focus is all about our partners and excellence in customer service. Our main objective is to create value for our partners by delivering extended coverage and differentiated services, supported by speedy delivery and high quality standards.

Moreover, we are continuously strengthening our group position by contributing with our expertise, complementary footprint and solid partnerships. In this respect, Telekom Romania Wholesale will enable multiple high speed international city-to-city combinations on diverse routes and even networks from the Middle East to western Europe via Turkey and everything in between.

For carrier enterprise services, Telekom Romania will keep deepening its existing partnerships in eastern Europe, streamlining commercial and operational end-to-end processes in line with our MEF 2.0 certification, in order to provide a seamless experience for the full SEE region.

Furthermore, we are in the process of transposing this successful formula to partnerships in other regions such as Africa and the Middle East, as such providing smooth pricing and provisioning processes to carriers and integrators for an ever extending footprint.

What new opportunities do you see in wholesale over the next few years?

The offensive of OTTs highlights the opportunities in the market we are operating in, and has made us realise this demand should be sustained by a proper infrastructure. We recognise that one of the most important assets we have is our infrastructure and we need to leverage that in the long-run, finding mutually beneficial agreements and the common ground to satisfy the end customers.

Telekom Romania is committed to invest in the latest technology and network expansion, and plans to reach over two million FTTH households by investing in 2016 close to €180 million in fixed and mobile networks.

Romania, geographically placed at the edge of EU, between Asia/Middle East and western Europe, has the great opportunity to capture and transit to the western EU the huge data demand from Caucasus, Asia or the Middle East.

Another opportunity we’d like to better explore is the growth and explosion of the IoT space. We are committed to leverage the technological advantage of being part of Deutsche Telekom, to educate local and regional markets, and capture the demand in both public and private sector. 

Romania itself has a lot of potential. It is the third year in a row that the country’s GDP growth has been above 3% and we can see a lot of opportunities when looking at the macroeconomic outlook of the full EE region which gives us confidence to invest and assume the technology leader role in domestic and regional markets.

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