In November 22, there was an exclusive interview of Ucell CEO, Mr. Ali Agan with representatives of the leading press and Internet media.
Ali Agan has pointed to the post of the CEO of Ucell in September 2012. This is his first exclusive interview, which he gave to some representatives of mass media of Uzbekistan. The aim of this event is the desire to get closer to the representatives of mass media, to establish communication and to share their first impressions about the work in Uzbekistan.
Exclusive interview lasted for 2 hours, Ali Agan answered all the questions and was very honest, noting that the representatives of mass media are the people close to him in spirit. The CEO of Ucell, emphasized that such meetings with journalists will be held frequently.
Below we publish the most interesting moments of the interview.
- What is the company Ucell doing in connection with changes in the market of cellular communications for receiving by the subscribers high-quality service, as it always has been?
- Firstly, I would like to thank you for the fact that our meeting today took place. I think journalists in some extent by my colleagues. You are a vector of information from point A to point B, than, in principle, what we're doing. We transfer information from one subscriber to another, that is, in fact we are engaged in the same activities.
As regards your question, at the moment we have a really some problems with the quality of communication. Naturally no one never invests in unexpected situations, they happen suddenly. In investing, we must proceed from the number of subscribers and the seriousness of the problem. But I want to note, that this kind of problem can not be solved suddenly, even in the presence of the necessary investments.
I will give an example. When in 1999 in Turkey there was a great earthquake, the whole of its mobile network stopped to function, because at that time almost the whole country began to call each other. The structure of the mobile communication does not provide for such situations, when at the same time call all the subscribers and the load on the network at the same time was very high, and in the moment that is what happened. Was it foreseen? I think, no. And could it have been avoided? I think, Yes.
On July 17, I was officially appointed as the General Director of the company Ucell. On this day, I came to Uzbekistan as a guest. I expected now I will arrange a tour in Tashkent, will offer pilaf, but there happened to all of us known situation and it had to quickly react on it, join the new team. Our team began to promptly investigate the situation. We have seen what happens on the streets, there was a great crowd of people in the offices of the company calculated for 500 persons, they can hold 1000. Since it was summer, we have tried to increase the number of air-conditioners installed coolers with water, umbrellas from the sun. The employees of the company issued certificates directly on the street. In addition, we, first of all, it was necessary to speed up the cycle of investment - we have to buy more base stations, expand the network, etc. I think that today we have done everything possible to ensure that nobody is left without communications.
Of course, you are right, we have the problem in the quality of communication, and it is very big. But I can say that in the next three months they will be resolved. And already in the first weeks of December, you will feel qualitative changes for the better, because today it is conducted much work on improvement of the work of the network. In addition, we are doing everything possible to that the Ucell is not been as a company with a bad connection. My main aim as the new Director General of the company is to give people high-quality goods at affordable prices.
We have recently carried out significant changes in the company, it has been appointed new technical Director, who will be responsible for the quality of communications, we have a new Director for marketing who will work on how to simplify the products of our company and make it more accessible for ordinary citizens. We are working tirelessly, although few people can see it from the outside, but I can assure you, the changes take place, they will last and the time has come to prove this is the case, and not only in words.
I am proud of my team, which has done so much work. I shall note, that recently from our head office in Stockholm (Sweden) we received gratitude for the work carried out by Ucell, in order not to leave people without a connection.
- It is known that Ucell is innovational company. What projects do you plan to implement in the near future and how much is their budget?
- Today, mobile communication is not a luxury. At the present time people using mobile communication more than the people who have a Bank account. In the next 10 years, more than 1 billion of the services will be fully implemented with the use of technology of machine-to-machine (M2M). For example, your machine will send information on your phone's about where it's parked. Or there is such a system as NFC, with the help of which you can pay the bill in the supermarket.
I would like to note that the new technology uses mostly young people. And if to compare with Norway and Germany, where the majority of the population of middle and older age groups, Uzbekistan has a great potential in the face of the youth, as the main users of technology.
In the sphere of innovation Ucell is one of the leaders on the market, as it provides the greatest number of additional services. One of our recent innovative projects organized jointly with the Ministry of health of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In the framework of the project implemented by the operative communication between the patient and doctor with the help of applicators to a mobile device, for example, is a mobile diagnose diabetes. Today this is pilot project, but I think it will be successful and the only one in Central Asia.
At the present time one of the new projects Ucell - «Galaba». It unites more than 50 small initiatives from different departments, which are also innovative.
For the time being, I can't say the exact budget distribution for all our innovative project until, but I want to note that you, i.e. the journalists will be the first in the list who know about the innovations that we're going to introduce on the market of Uzbekistan.
- In your opinion, what is the most likely used by the population of Uzbekistan SMS-services or web applications?
- Trends in the sphere of technologies of today very quickly develop, on the basis of the needs of the users. If earlier we spoke about the presence of GPRS as of achievement, now talking about the technologies of 3G and 4G. Uzbekistan does not lag behind in this respect from European countries. In particular, the level of development of the mobile Internet is very high. If 10 years ago, buying a cell phone, we wanted to just contact the person, today we are also active users of the mobile Internet. I would add that the need for SMS services will gradually decline. Another trend is voice services. Note that Uzbekistan is the most «speaking» country in the world and is one of the five countries on this indicator. But the revenues from voice services will also decline, and the rate for mobile services via the Internet will continue to grow.
- Will you develop LTE technology?
- Of course, Yes! This system will work in the near future. We already have a license, it is run the test version. Before the Ucell I was the Director General of the Azercell, and I can say that in June of this year in several cities of Azerbaijan, I personally launched services 4G. When talking about the mass use of LTE technology, then I can tell you that the problem is not with mobile operators, and in the production part. Not all have the necessary devices, equipment for the use of LTE technology, not all phones support 4G.
If we look at the use of the mobile Internet in Uzbekistan only slightly more than 10% of the available phones on the market support 3G. So this year we are starting to invest more in the development of 3G and HSPA+, which speed reaches up to 21 MB/s, which of course is a good indicator. I shall note that on 3G coverage and quality of Ucell is the best operator in Uzbekistan. We also dominate the market on introduction of mobile devices, whether it's modems, phones, tablets. But devices that use 4G very expensive and are not accessible to everybody. With time, the prices, of course, will decline, and the convenience and possibility of their use will grow. I think that in the next 2-3 years, these technologies have already been introduced around the world in the mass segment. And of course Ucell will not stay aside.
- It was recently published the results of the activities of Ucell for 9 months. But already nearing the end of 2012, what are the existing data about the company's work?
- According to the indicators of the year, for the time being I can't say anything, because we are a part of TeliaSonera, which is listed on an international stock exchange, and after our head office will announce the information on all financial indicators, then we will be able to share it. Regarding to the report for 9 months, the goals that we have set for ourselves, and financial and other parameters were achieved and even higher expectations. As I have already said, in the next year we will launch the project «Galaba», and in the framework of all our projects and initiatives are also linked to financial performance. We strive to ensure that our company was financially successful.
- How do you assess the company's contribution into the economy of Uzbekistan, couldn’t you more fully inform us about its investment plans, the volume of investments. And a few words about the PR-strategy of the company?
- Speaking about mobile technologies, it should be noted that this is the most extensive scope, requires constant investments and costs. We talked a lot, which we had investments in the form of taxes and social costs. The more a company grows, the more taxes we pay, the more of these taxes state shall transmit to the development of various spheres. Our company goes forward, it is growing and we want to grow. Of course we did not forget about the social responsibility of helping colleges, clinics and so on. But we need to look much further. We call this is not a PR and corporate communications, and our strategy will be designed to be ambassadors of business. We will certainly participate in international conferences, and talk about the changes and innovations, which we implemented in the country. History and culture of Uzbekistan has developed more than 2 thousand years, but the country became independent only 20 years ago. For such a short time the Republic has accomplished a lot. Speaking in the role of the business of the ambassadors, we will talk about the positive development of Uzbekistan, of a favorable investment climate, which, I think, will add to the motivation of those investors who want to start their own business in this unique country with a great potential for development.
- What personal achievements today you can be proud of?
- I would not compare personal achievements with the business indicators, because it is such a thing: if you work hard, it gains a lot. That is, all depends only on you. I don't consider myself a person with a high IQ, because people with more or less the level of intelligence are not quite common. I am focused on business, and even more on the result in the business. As for achievements, that if you treat your business with respect and love, as to his family, then it is already one of the achievements.
To date, the correctness of my decision changes the life of approximately 10 thousand people. How? About 1000 people are our employees, plus they have families, in addition we have dealers who also have families and in the aggregate, this is more than 10 thousand people. If I correct the decision of changing the life of the 4-year-old child of one of dealers, say, somewhere in Andijan in the best way, it is already a great achievement. That is, to improve the lives of people, which I had never seen, it is my great achievement as a person. But for all this we must pay the price. I can honestly say that I do not have enough time for my family. But this is the path that I have chosen for myself, and skillful businessman should always manage and balance of the personal life with the business.
- What projects had you realized in Azerbaijan and is it possible to apply these methods in Uzbekistan?
- When I took the post of General Director of AzerCell, of course, we have introduced 3G, 4G and other technologies. But in the network Azerсell 3% of subscribers use postpaid numbers, and 97% prepaid. Then I have an important question to staff Azerсell, whether they themselves prepaid services. However, no employee knew what it was to be an ordinary person, what are their requirements and needs. Staff Azerсell not pay for the room and did not feel that felt a simple subscriber. Then I just made all employees, whether Manager or head of Department, work in «the field», that is, out in the dealer offices and sales offices, to use all the services that they provide to subscribers and to identify where and what is missing. This was a step to better understand our customers. The experiment was a success. The company began to offer tariffs and services, which have really become popular, convenient and accessible. The loyalty of subscribers acquired over time, based on trust. You have to be honest and open, to be able to recognize their mistakes and in time to correct them. If we increase accounts of subscribers and deceive them, then we will lose the future. And without loyal subscribers, the company simply fail. I believe in our customers and I think in the near future they will begin to believe in me and in my company.
- What qualities should a Manager of the company, Ucell have and how you build a relationship with your subordinates?
I've been in many meetings and conferences, in which students asked me how to become a leader? I do not believe that there are born as leaders. You can become the leader by putting a lot of effort. There is also such an inexplicable phenomenon of luck or fortune. It must be attracted, but for that you need to honestly and lovingly work. In my work is not uncommon, that for the decision of business matters for the two days I've been in five countries, and my personal record - eight countries in three days. That is, without diligence, without striving it is impossible to achieve goal of success. Therefore, there become a leader by passing through all the difficulties and stages of life.
How to treat me, my staff? Perhaps it would be better to ask about it themselves. Yes, I'm not an easy man. I do not like lazy. I set high standards and like, when these standards are consistent. I appreciate the close-knit team work, and it must be harmony and one aim.
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