COVERS 83% OF THE POPULATION FOR 4G

Costa Rica 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

Johanna Escobar Guerra, Country Manager of Telefónica, on 4G, the telecoms market at large, and customer service.

What are the efforts behind making Telefónica the leader of LTE 4G in Costa Rica?

We have had a clear vision of what we needed to do in the country. There have been three pillars that have taken us to our current position. We are the second carrier in the Costa Rican market and a referent in LTE technology. The first of these pillars has been deploying a robust network, particularly in LTE 4G. In fact, we were the pioneers of developing this technology throughout the country. Currently, we cover 83% of the population in terms of 4G and 98% of the population for 3G. Another of our strategies has been developing innovative products that truly adapt to the needs of customers. A third element, which is one of the most important, is ensuring customers have a great experience and are satisfied with our services. Our investments have not been only toward deploying our network, but also on availability of service and ensuring that customer experience and service are satisfactory. In six years of operations, we have invested over USD600 million.

How has Movistar impacted the telecoms market in Costa Rica?

In our six years of operations, our main focus has always been the customer. Developing our products has resulted in over 2.3 million customers. On top of this, our focus on service has helped expand our market share. According to SUTEL, we had 25% of the market share in 2016 and estimated 27.1% in 2017. This has allowed us grow rapidly, positively impacting the Costa Rican market, since we have deployed our service to regions outside the GAM, providing our customers with greater connectivity and benefits. Some of the greatest effects on the market have been the development of innovative products and a robust network, and we have been pioneers in products and services that our competitors have followed. Another of our main focuses has been facilitating the lives of our customers, giving them the ability to auto manage their accounts and providing a satisfactory service. We are at the top of rankings of SUTEL for customer satisfaction, while other studies such as Open Signal have ranked our network as the best in the key terms such as network availability and latency. We recently won 40 MHz in the last spectrum auction and with large investments in the first quarter of 2018 we will use this spectrum to improve our mobile networks and increase speeds.

How has Telefónica innovated with its B2B solutions?

We have a customized and differentiated service, depending on the type of customer. In the B2B segment, we developed a robust portfolio of services for large, medium, and small companies, as well as for the government. We develop services that boost their business and facilitate the operations of companies in a productive way. In our catalog, we have fixed-data solutions, mobile data, cybersecurity services, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, and mobile applications, as well as new services, such as sponsored data. We also have a fleet management service in order to control and measure the use of transport fleets. We are also developing IoT and working with municipalities on the subject of smart cities. There is a significant number of B2B services and that is because we have the support of Grupo Telefónica, which develops them and we adapt them to the Costa Rican market. We have grown 45% in the last year in B2B services in Costa Rica and our bet is to continue to focus on innovating our digital solutions to offer to the corporate segment, so we are able to compete with the major operators of the market.

What is your perspective of the telecoms sector in 2018?

In 2018, we will continue to develop innovative products. We have prepared a portfolio of services for 2018, with which our customers will find benefits and will be able to choose from. Our objective remains clear: to take care of our 2.3 million customers through customer service, innovative products, customer experience and user-friendly interface, and, above all, products that allow us to be an integral operator. It will be an interesting year for the telecoms sector and mobile operators due the need to anticipate customers' requirements and being competitive.