Malta’s comms sector continues surge

As Malta’s leading provider of communications and entertainment services, GO offers fixed line telephony, mobile telephony, broadband internet services and digital television, in addition to business-related services like data networking solutions, business IP services, and managed and co-location facilities.

Although the company’s major market is Malta – the smallest member state of the EU, with a population of 400,000 people – the company does business with international companies based in Malta and abroad. In fact, GO is also looking at entering into new markets overseas.

GO powers more than 500,000 customer connections and services – making it the largest communications and entertainment provider in Malta, and one of the major companies operating in the Maltese islands.

GO’s CEO David Kay has been at the helm of the company for the past four and a half years, since the state-owned incumbent was privatised. “GO has been in the business of communications for the past 36 years,” says Mr Kay. “Our major shareholder is Emirates International Telecommunications LLC (EIT), a joint venture between TECOM Investments and Dubai Investment Group – both part of Dubai Holdings. The remaining shares are traded on the Malta and London Stock Exchanges.”

GO and EIT jointly own close to 40 percent of Forthnet SA, one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing competitive telecommunications companies in Greece. In 2009, GO acquired a majority stake in the Malta-based BMIT Group which provides a variety of data centre services including co-location, managed services and the provision of IP connectivity.

Currently GO employs around 1,100 people. The company does its best to retain its employees via employee development programmes and ensuring it has the right people in the right places. The company offers ongoing training programmes to develop on-the-job, management and people skills.

GO is constantly investing in new technologies, both in terms of IT applications and tools as well as in technical, engineering and network platforms. Recently the company migrated all its billing systems to Cerillion, and it is currently migrating its mobile core network from Nortel Networks to Alcatel Lucent. GO is the only communications provider in Malta that owns and operates two submarine cable links to Europe – one via Telecom Italia, and the other via Interoute. Additional capacity is also available via a third submarine cable. Other important developments include improvements to customer relationship management and constant updates in network security.

In July 2010, GO announced it would be investing €100m over a six-year period, starting in 2011, as part of its technology roadmap. This scheme will see GO launch a plethora of next generation networks, such as fibre-to-the-home, mobile network upgrades and investments in its TV infrastructure to cover new services and applications. Over the past years, GO has invested considerably in its TV network – both at a headend level, but also in the transmission, to make sure its DTTV signal is available in all corners of Malta and Gozo. In addition, apart from deploying fibre, GO is upgrading its existing fixed network by bringing fibre closer to the households.

“Our tagline is ‘Made for You’,” says Mr Kay. “We believe that technology is an enabler that ensures our customers get the best level of service as well as the latest services at their homes and businesses. We pride ourselves in being a customer-focused organisation and we endeavour to put the customer at the centre of all that we do. The investment in the right technology means that our customers have also the peace of mind and reliability that the communication and entertainment service they require is delivered to the customers’ satisfaction and consistently.”

GO’s capex over the last 10 years amounted to €240m. The group capex since acquisition by Tecom in 2006 amounted to €85m.

GO business and other developments
GO has a sub-brand called GO business which includes all the business-facing operations under one roof. GO business serves the communication and entertainment needs of the major corporate businesses in Malta, in addition to SMEs and SOHOs.

Another important development has been GO’s active entry into the TV market and the acquisition of the exclusive rights to the English Premier League, Serie A, Formula One and a host of other content.

“It is an important part of GO’s strategy to expand in the pay-TV business,” says Mr Kay. “Such content is an important decision factor for customers to switch from one provider to another. The take-up has been very encouraging and we expect our GO sports positioning to grow further in the future.”

GO is also investing in IPTV, and as GO extends its fibre and fast internet network to other localities in Malta and Gozo, the take-up of HD and interactive TV is expected to increase. GO plans to offer other TV services over fibre, such as video on demand and other applications.

GO is the leading provider of fixed line telephony and internet in Malta. Within the mobile market, GO is the second largest operator (out of three network operators and three MVNOs) – with over 44 percent market share. In the TV business, GO is the fastest growing pay-TV provider with close to 45 percent market share. GO is the leading company when it comes to bundling all four services into one package, via the Home Pack proposition.

Business partners
GO does business with various international players such as RIM (BlackBerry), Alcatel Lucent, Cerillion, Telecom Italia, Interoute, as well as content providers like the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Formula One Management, FOX Corp and Universal.

Business clients range from local to international customers and cover every economic sector from the government and financial services, to tourism, manufacturing and e-gaming.

On how the company manages its relationships with its customers, Mr Kay says: “We believe it’s about trust and relationship-building. It’s also about making sure you act as a reliable, flexible and value-for-money provider.”

Product launches
Over the past months, GO has successfully launched various new products and services, including a range of new smartphones and smart devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the iPhone 4, the BlackBerry Torch and the HTC Wildfire. In addition, GO continues to provide its customers with the Laptop Connect data plan, whereby customers get a laptop, data connection and data plan all-inclusive in one tariff.

The flagship product of GO is the Home Pack, which combines all the communication and entertainment needs of a household in one convenient and affordable package at €33 a month. This includes TV, internet, a fixed phoneline and mobile minutes.

GO believes there are segments in the local market that are cost-conscious and therefore a straight-forward package like Home Pack has been very successful in this regard. Other segments of the market want bespoke and value-added services and devices – and GO makes sure it caters for these needs. This is particularly the case of business customers who require services such as co-location and managed data centre services as well as resilient IP bandwidth.

GO is actively implementing a CSR strategy that will ensure a lower carbon footprint, with the hope of achieving carbon neutrality in the future. “We have introduced various energy-efficient devices in our buildings, make sure our consumables (such as recharge vouchers) are bio-degradable, plant trees to offset our carbon dioxide emissions, launch initiatives whereby customers are incentivised not to receive a physical bill (but view their bill online) as well as top-up and pay online,” says Mr Kay.

Malta is an excellent place to do business, with a favourable tax regime and a population which communicates fluently in English. The adaptability and flexibility of the Maltese make this place unique, as well as the deep level of understanding of business dynamics, not only at a local level but also within the international context.

GO is fully supportive of the Maltese government’s 2015 Vision aimed at creating areas of excellence within the Mediterranean – ICT being one of them. GO believes it has an important role to play in this, as well as in the realisation of Malta’s Smart City project.

“Within this context, we augur that GO will continue to lead the 4P telecoms market in Malta as well as lead in the individual services we offer – thanks to our focus on the customer, our capable and dedicated employees, and our constant investment in networks,” says Mr Kay.

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