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Tunisia-Tunisiana: the BlackBerry in few months and formal contacts with Hexabyte

With 5 210 926 lines, late December 2009, Tunisiana is having a share lion on the mobile market where its market share exceeds apparently 50% while having the ambition to be a key player in the field.
The Orascom group’s company is preparing to competition, preparing silently its entry on the Tunisian stock exchange. It is also preparing to face the forthcoming changes of the market, with 3G, for which it has not been awarded license and to the Internet where it has not the ISP. We talked with the CEO, Yves Gauthier about these issues. Interview.
For a year, and apart from usual promotions, Tunisiana didn’t launch new services and new products that can make a difference compared to the rest of the operators?
We need to have access to the related technology to do so. We had still new things, including in Smartphones and Data. We also launched some new technology content products, certainly through promotions, but perhaps consumers get used to promotions.
We launched new products, for example, products where families and people can call each other within a family at preferential rates, or products where the receiver pays the call or the deployment of EDG coverage virtually through the whole country.
You talked about smartphones and we have seen, at some point, in Tunisiana, Black Berry sets albeit with in small quantity of 500 terminals, but no communication as if there had never been Black Berry at Tunisiana.
Regarding communication, we are involved in now. We were waiting for tests completion as well as for the number of phones needed in addition to technical structure which allows receiving emails from web mail. That was done in two phases, the first was dedicated to companies and we did not need to communicate, and it is in the second phase targeting general public that the communication will be launched, i.e., in the coming couple of weeks.
How many BlackBerry sets did you sell to companies?
About 400 subscriptions have been sold to firms.
How will you differentiate yourself in relation to Tunisia Telecom offers?
As far as distinction is concerned, it shall be made through services provided.
Subsequently, the after sales service rate satisfaction will make the difference.
Will you make the difference through price?
We will, and we should, because if we do not do so, consumers will not come to us. But the real difference will be made through the quality of service provided to the client.
You launched the Black Berry while you do not have 3G. Of course, you have issued calls for tenders for the setting up of a 3G network. When this network will be ready and who will be the supplier?
Ericsson is in the race as other providers, but the selection has not yet been made. Moreover, running the 3G requires certification and this is not yet the case. As for the BlackBerry, it does not require 3G and may very well work with the 2G and the GDR.
You mentioned that you have not the 3G license and you confirmed at the same time that you launch a tender for the 3G network. How can this be done?
Prior to developing a 3G network, you must work out a budget. Under the assumptions we have issued, the call for tender will enable us to assess technologies and proposed costs. In this way, once we get the license, we will be ready for the development and deployment of the network.
Have you had first contacts with the Ministry of ICT about the 3G license?
We wrote to the ministry to announce our formal application for a 3G license when it will be proposed. Then, it will be up to the ministry to make a decision.
How do you assess your position regarding competition vis-à-vis the first operator and the new one. Do you maintain a competitive edge or do you think you’re undervalued, since you are a sole GSM operator in the face of two universal operators?
We would rather have a full license as Orange and landlines as Tunisia Telecom. Unfortunately, we cannot change this situation, therefore, we deal with. But it is true that this adds a handicap for Tunisiana.
Have you had contact with Hexabyte?
It is simply a formal contact, not for buying.
There was much talk about the entry of Tunisiana in the stock exchange!
I must say that it is not that Orascom that will go public. It holds up to the half of the assets of Tunisiana. To do so, shareholders should sell their shares and not the company.
The process is going on, but we are not allowed to communicate in this regard. All we can say is that IPO goes on…
The assessment is completed?
No, it is not over.


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