MEINRAD SPENGER

Spain 2021 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Meinrad Spenger, CEO of MásMóvil Group, about successfully entering the Spanish market, fiber optics and coverage, and his vision of the sector for the medium term.

You co-founded MásMóvil in Spain in 2006 with a Norwegian partner, and it is now the fourth-largest operator in the country. What have been your milestones?

We will soon turn 15 years old, and it has been an interesting trip. Two foreigners came to Spain to set up a company, and at the time, we did not have deep knowledge of Spain or contacts. Now, we are a nearly EUR2-billion revenue company close to 12 million customers in Spain which 2 million are fixed broadband lines, and more than 1,000 employees and so many things have happened during this journey. We created MásMóvil because mobile communications in Spain at the time was quite expensive; in fact, Spain was the most expensive country for that service, and Spaniards were the least satisfied by mobile phone services. In other countries, there were virtual mobile operators that rented telecommunications infrastructure from legacy operators, and these virtual operators started to offer communications services with personalized service for their clients. We want our clients to have the best experience and to be the most satisfied ones, which has been our main milestone. MásMóvil is the leader in customer satisfaction rankings in Spain. We will continue to work on the digitalization of processes and launch useful services for our clients. In this regard, we have recently launched Energy Go, which is a company to sell energy. We want to be the best European operator in terms of customer satisfaction and social and environmental impact. That is why we are entering the renewable energy sector now.

The group has close to 12 million customers and offers a coverage of 98.5% of the territory for mobile phones. What is the company's growth strategy, and what differentiates MásMóvil from its competition?

We are fully focused on customer satisfaction. We do not just talk; we base this satisfaction on facts. Last year we saw a relevant reduction in the number of customer complaints, for example, and we expect another big reduction this year. We were the first to share infrastructure with the main operators in Spain. Traditionally in this sector, every operator wanted their own infrastructure, which limited coverage because there were no resources to cover the entire territory. We started to co-invest and share infrastructure with other operators. As a result, MásMóvil has the highest coverage for fiber optics in Spain with more than 26 million households available. The same happens for mobile coverage. Meanwhile, the company's culture is to remain as a small business. We are becoming larger, but we want to maintain that start-up mentality of low bureaucracy, agility, and low personal egos. We are heavily focused on sustainability. We are the first company in Europe in our category with an environment, social, and governance (ESG) rating. We are also the first operator in Europe involved in the B-Corp certification process, which certifies companies with a relevant environmental and social commitment. We expect to obtain this certification in 2021 as we are still going through the auditing process.

Are you working to consolidate yourself into the Portuguese market?

We are very interested in the Portuguese market. There are only a few players in the telecommunications sector in Portugal, and we see great opportunity in this market. We are in Portugal together with the three legacy players and another virtual operator. In Spain, there are 25 different brands competing in fixed and mobile services. We will expand our broadband services in Portugal as well as our fiber optic infrastructure. We are also participating in an auction for mobile phone spectrum because we plan building our own mobile phone network in Portugal.

Can you elaborate on your Energy Go project?

We are the first telecommunications operator in Spain to also offer green energy. This is 100% renewable energy. We expect to offer up to 20% in saving costs. For us, it is also to increase loyalty for our clients, so we do not need to earn significant margins in this product. This also makes the company different from others. The customer experience that we offer is similar to what we do with the telecommunications services. We are more digital, transparent, and user-friendly. It only takes five minutes for a new customer to switch their electricity service from the legacy company to ours. There is great interest in the market for these services. People are interested in companies that are committed to the environment. We do not have objectives or specific goals, though we anticipate that Energy Go will be a success, and we will become the number-one company that is an alternative to traditional utilities.

You have closed an agreement with El Corte Ingles to enter into the alarm sector. What is your interest in that area?

As an operator, we want to lead the “smart home experience” for our clients. We entered into our clients' homes to install fiber optics, and now we can do it in the alarm sector. We always seek different paths to provide services, and this also translates into the security sector. Our proposal is a light model, which would combine cameras, sensors, and other items with innovative existing technology, such as Amazon Eco. It has to be user-friendly and does not require a telecommunication engineer behind to be installed in the homes. This should be a massive service in Spain, which has about 25 million homes and only 2 million alarms. We want to offer innovative solutions for those who cannot afford the current prices of EUR50 per month, which is what legacy businesses offer. This service is for homes as well as small companies. We will likely not focus on extremely large companies for these services in our initial stages.

What is your vision in the telecommunication sector in Spain for the medium term?

Telecom operators have demonstrated that they are a fundamental part of the economy. The pandemic has shown that connectivity is essential people´s lives and of course for the productivity of companies and the country . This showed that there is not only a huge opportunity for us, also a huge responsibility as well. In our communications, we have to present ourselves as a fundamental industry for the economy. That means we have to seek and create value, not only for the benefit of our companies, but also to our clients, the market, and society as a whole. That implies areas such as our social responsibility mission to bring connectivity to every town and small village in Spain. We connect 500,000 new homes in small towns every year, and that requires a significant investment. That is extremely important because it means we have positively impacted people's lives.

What is the company's main goal for 2021?

Our main goal is to improve our customer experience. We want the most satisfied customers in Europe, and we will achieve that. We also want to add other services such as energy, which could improve the customer experience. That service can provide benefits to our clients.