27% INVESTMENT GROWTH IN 2018

Turkey 2020 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Paul Doany, CEO of Türk Telekom, on fiber optic rollout, 5G infrastructure, and cyber security.

What infrastructure investments have facilitated Türk Telekom's broadband and mobile success?

In 2018, with an increase of 27% in comparison to the previous year, we actualized TL4.1 billion worth of investments. Of these investments, 68% was allocated to fiber and other fixed network developing structures and the remaining went towards the mobile infrastructure. We delivered our fiber services to a total of 18.6 million households and workplaces. In 2018 alone, we raised the internet penetration within our country to 55% by increasing fiber home pass by 2.4 million and we aim to continue and increase that momentum. With the arrival of more advanced and developed technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) and smart cities that are gaining popularity with the fast approaching arrival of 5G, the way we as operators deliver services to our subscribers must also be advanced and developed. The high cost and construction of necessary infrastructure that next generation communication technologies such as 5G require for fast data transfer is the largest obstacle facing operators. The most effective solution for this situation lies in inter-sector collaborations and models that will be developed in the construction and utilisation of the fixed and mobile infrastructure.

How will 5G factor into your mobile growth strategy over the next several years?

During the development stage of 5G and once it has been put into practice, this technology will create a global platform encompassing the next generation and digital society. Instead of remaining on a single step of the value chain, operators will spread to each and every step with 5G and will be given the option to widen their range of services and grow; they will become network developers, service providers and even OTT creators which will in turn generate an extra revenue flow. As Türk Telekom, in order to contribute to this development, we are preparing our industry for advanced technologies by providing digital transformation and consulting services to industrial corporations in Turkey with our solution partners. However, in order for the 5G networks to be able to deliver the speeds it promises, all its cells must be connected to a fiber backbone. As Türk Telekom, with our 282 thousand kilometres of fiber network infrastructure, which covers the country end to end, we have already created Turkey's 5G communication backbone. Additionally, due to the 5G network's different architecture, operators must adopt collaborations and sharing models in infrastructure if they want to meet the high data speed and capacity 5G provides and increase return by decreasing capital expenditure. As Türk Telekom, the fixed and mobile infrastructure sharing models we developed in line with sector and country benefits will not only provide operators and our country with a significant profit in the long term, but at the same time will become successful exemplary models for many regions around the world that want to transition over to 5G. With our 282,000km fiber infrastructure, we as Türk Telekom have already reached a fiber household access of 18.6 million and have fiberized approximately 80% of our country. What we need now isn't to take fiber to households, much more than that, we need to ensure more people use the internet; basically, we need to increase the internet penetration.

How does Türk Telekom work with its subsidiary Argela in developing 5G capabilities?

In order to actualize Turkey's goal of becoming one of the first countries to transition over to 5G, our works in 5G technologies and infrastructures are continuing at full speed through Argela, our subsidiary that generates value in information technologies. At our R&D centers such as Türk Telekom Innovation Centre and Argela 5G Centre of Excellence, we develop local products and technologies that create added value for the national economy and accelerate national development as well as maintain our leadership for Turkey to reach a position where it not only produces but also exports new technologies. With the network slicing smart software ProgRAN, which was developed by Argela and its Silicon Valley affiliate Netsia, we have raised our productivity to the highest level through our use of artificial intelligence in the optimisation of fixed and mobile networks. Most importantly, we have reached a position where we are now exporting patented 5G products to leading global operators such as Telefonica, Verizon, and Orange and thus are furthering our contribution towards the national economy. Through Argela and Netsia, we have obtained 6 new patents in 5G on an international scale in 2018. Hence, we have proudly raised our 5G patents to 17 and our total patents to 26 by the end of the year.

Within the health, education, and energy sectors what investments have been made through Türk Telekom's venture capital initiative?

We support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in order for Turkey to become stronger and more economically independent. As Türk Telekom, we define this support as being able to present value-added services to our customers through collaborations with innovative technological start-ups and being able to create economic benefits for our country and sector by accelerating these start-ups. In this context, we set up the sector's first corporate venture capital company; TT VENTURES in early 2018 in order to support growing start-ups. Our first investment was in the healthcare sector to Doctor Turkey; an innovative service that provides online health consultant services. TT VENTURES' second investment was in education and one of our previous initiative accelerating programme PILOT's graduates actualised MentalUP; Turkey's first gamified education platform for children that develops their thinking and learning skills. We are also investing in the energy sector through our collaborations with Turkey's leading energy companies. As a company that prides itself on the importance it places on customer satisfaction, one of our aims is to make the lives of consumers easier by combining electricity services with internet and voice services at a single point of contact. Moreover, one of the results of our investments and work across the vast area of smart cities and IoT are significant savings in the energy area. With the smart solutions we brought to areas such as electricity, lighting, recycling, fuel and irrigation, we generate a large amount of savings for our country and government; up to TL3 billion each year. We will continue to invest in smart cities and solutions that contribute towards Turkey's digital transformation and bring significant savings to our local councils, government, the citizens of Turkey and for Turkey itself.

What investments has Türk Telekom made in cyber security?

As Türk Telekom, we had an aim of becoming the region's data center base and ensuring the safety of our customers, the people of Turkey and the entire country. With the Cyber Security Centre that we opened, which is the country's largest, we have successfully increased the diversity of traditional and innovative cyber security services we provide and have become Turkey's largest cyber-security operator. Ensuring that Turkey's data remains in Turkey and is stored at the highest security is one of our most valued responsibilities we have taken upon ourselves. In addition to providing cyber-security to all 500 of Turkey's largest companies as well as many private and public institutions, we are systematically preparing them for the future with our corporate products, services and digital solutions during their digitalization process. By equipping these companies with the correct moves we are ensuring their adaptation to Industry 4.0.

How will Türk Telekom be impacted by its corporate structure change, involving a majority takeover by a SPV owned by Akbank, Garanti Bankası, and İşbank?

The majority takeover of the company by an SPV owned by said banks has eliminated uncertainties pertaining to the partnership structure and has ensured Türk Telekom maintains its activities and investments more strongly, take the necessary steps towards the future and continue its successful operations and service delivery.

What are Türk Telekom's most exciting plans and primary objectives over the next 12 months?

In order for Turkey to actualize the development leap it is aiming for and be able to take its place amongst the top ten global economies, digitalisation and thus the proliferation of internet usage is of vital importance to our country. Therefore, our main priority for 2019 will once again be to increase the internet penetration. On the fixed internet side, we are aiming to ensure the 5G-ready infrastructure in mobile along with fiber investments. We will increase our project-based collaborations on subjects regarded as concrete indicators of digitalisation such as internet of things, smart cities, and smart health campuses, and we will proliferate our works in these next generation areas across the country. In addition, we will continue to grow our Digital Products and Services, for both the consumer market and the 'new enterprise,' through digital transformation services we provide through our three main subsidiaries Innova, Argela, and Sebit. I am particularly excited about our digital keyboard, TAMBU, which we as Türk Telekom believe will become an important new platform in the upcoming period. With our digital solutions such as our self-service point of contact we have with our customers, ONLINE SERVICES; our loyalty program where we offer awards to our customers, SİL SÜPÜR; our application that allows customers to solve their internet connectivity problems on their own, PRACTICAL SOLUTION; ELEQ, our live mobile gameshow program that presents a brand new gaming experience, Turkey's favorite digital music platform MUUD, Turkey's technologic and rich content OTT TV platform TIVIBU GO, the country's leading digital gaming platform PLAYSTORE, Turkey's rich content digital magazine and newspaper reading platform E-MAGAZINE and EYESENSE, Turkey's first photography application for the blind are providing users novel experiences. It goes without saying that we will continue to develop while we grow and connect Turkey to the future in the period ahead.