Altice will invest RD$6 billion in Orange and Tricom in 2015
SANTO DOMINGO. Altice, a multinational cable and telecommunications group, arrived in the Dominican Republic, after acquiring at the end of 2013 local companies Tricom and Orange, and since then redefined this market in the country.
Abdelhakim Boubazine, the managing director of Altice in the country, spoke regarding the plans of the company in the Dominican Republic and its impact on the local market.
Q. What have you achieved?
A. We have just finished a survey of the network in order to understand its weaknesses, and put into practice immediately a plan of action. We invested a lot of money in 2014. And in 2015 we will invest RD$3.0 billion in Tricom and another RD $3.0 billion in Orange. The investments for 2015 have Artie been 30% carried out, with results which we see in the improvement of the capacity of Internet service. In Tricom we have substituted a lot of old equipment.
Before, the service had a lot of congestion in Santiago and Santo Domingo. The investment plan for the deployment of the network is today a reality. We promised that this year we were going to install fiber optic cable in 200,000 homes, and today we have some 15,000 homes where it is already installed.
Q. Have the prices gone down?
A. When we arrived and we carried out a market study, we came to the conclusion that the prices are too high, and we promised that we were going to work in order to make them fairer. I don’t say cheap, just fairer.
So, on 19 January we launched our new Triple Play and Internet offerings, what we lowered the prices in an average of 75%.
This was a success. First we wanted to challenge the conditions of the market in order to show that we could achieve fair prices. Obviously it was a business success, because we received more clients, which was also the objective.
But we also have a new standard regarding how to manage the telecommunications market. Our strategy consists in buying companies, making them simpler, more efficient, and that the economies of scale which we achieve also benefit the clients.
This is the operating model which Altice applies in all the countries where it works. It is an operating model that works, and we apply it wherever we go.
Q. The unification appears to be a pending job. Why do Orange and Tricom operate as separate firms?
A. As legal entities they are separate. But we have commercial synergies for example.
Tricom and Orange sign the commercial distribution agreements, and today you can go to a Orange store and be a clients of a Tricom store. We still do not have a regulatory judicial merger. We are working with Indotel to achieve a single accounting department.
Q. In what cities are you beginning with the fiber-optic cables?
A. Principally in the Cibao, San Francisco de Macoris, La Vega, Moca. In San Francisco de Macoris, where we do not have any fiber optics, just a copper network, we have as an objective that before December we reach 15,000 customers.
Q. In the long term, what are the perspectives for continuing reducing the cost of the service?
A. Today we have the lowest prices on the market. The price of the Triple Play (telephone, cable TV and Internet) of a least one mega, is less than RD$1500 pesos, 10% of the average salary. There are still opportunities to reduce prices, but there are particular issues in this market, such as that of the taxes, which is a challenge. But also, other challenges such as the topography of the country, which is an island. In other countries electric energy is available at competitive prices. Here we consume 150,000 gallons of fuel each month.
There is also the major impact that we are on an island, and there are only four cables that come here, and give us international capacity on the Internet, and their prices are much higher than in other markets.
In comparison with Miami, the international capacity of Internet for the country is 300 times more expensive.
Today the installed Internet capacity is purchased at US$300,000 to US$400,000 per gigabyte. In Miami this is purchased at US $300. This is a very important difference.
“We are here for the long term”
Abdelhakim Boubazine, the CEO of Altice in the Dominican Republic, reports that the company is analyzing the possibility of constructing a cable of international Internet capacity. He explains that it would be a cable that would give direct access to the cheapest international capacity from the United States; or from other islands. “We are analyzing these projects in order to see if it will give us an economic advantage in the long term, because we are here for the long term.” He explains that these cables are built for an operating life of between 15 and 20 years. He says that the priority of Altice, “for now” is the Dominican Republic. Asked if they would contemplate exporting the service to other islands in the region, he answered: “obviously, as long as we carry out new acquisitions, this cable could have other successes. The construction of the cable would last two years.
They will expand the Orange network after agreement with Huawei
The CEO of Altice in the Dominican Republic, Abdelhazim Boubazin, signed together with Shi Peinbin, the CEO of Huawei in the country, an agreement whereby the Chinese company will provide advanced technology for the expansion of the mobile networks and fiber optics for Orange.
The agreement covers the implementation of the latest generation of technology in order to continue expanding the 3G and 4G LTE mobile networks, and prepare the fiber optic network in order to offer: converging telecommunication services, with the best possible quality, according to Altice.
The expansion plan of Orange includes the deployment of more than 1000 new antennas, which would mean duplicating its current network. In this matter Orange assures the coverage of its mobile networks in the principal cities, and even the municipal districts of the country.
May 11, 2015
Category: DR News |