Here’s the latest interview with the CEO of DiGi, Johan Dennelind by Business Times
Q: Any surprises on Mobile Number Portability (MNP), so far?
Dennelind: Back tracking a bit first, just to remind you, leading to mobile number portability, there were no awareness campaigns done by us or anyone. Basically, when we launch, there was very little awareness among the public. We didn’t expect a quick pick-up. So, what surprised me was that actually people were porting and changing, and they were trying out new operators. This has given us the opportunity to prove to our existing customers and new customers that we are a good choice. That has pushed us to really deliver on our value proposition.
What has surprised me a little bit is that people really appreciate the quality enhancement that DiGi has made over the past years. We have invested close to RM1 billion this year. To have invested heavily on network has paid off on the quality side. So, people porting in are saying: “Wow! Your quality is really better than where I came from.” That’s the good news, and maybe we should start talking more about our quality than we have done in the past.
Q: How did DiGi perform since MNP was launched?
Dennelind: So far so good, I would say. In terms of numbers, we are net gainers. I’m not going into the details of the numbers, because I still feel it’s early days, but we are encouraged by the net gaining position. It’s not by much, but it still feels good to know and it’s a morale boost for the organisation. Being a net gainer means more people porting into DiGi than leaving DiGi. We won’t take any customers for granted, we have to make sure we own the trust of the customers. Every port in is a success, every port out is a failure to us. So, when we are a net gainer, it is more a morale booster.
Q: There are rumours that as many as 5,000 subscribers from other operators port into DiGi daily. Is that true?
Dennelind: It’s not true. Those numbers were way too high. We don’t port in thousands, we port in hundreds, per day.
Q: Do you think MNP has changed the mobile industry landscape?
Dennelind: It’s too early to tell. But, I still think MNP can change the way operators treat its customers, it’s a trigger for that. Because we are doing more for our customers now, we are treating them better, we are giving them better service, given them better quality and given them better touch-point experience with us. And, that should pay off. I think indirectly MNP is pushing the industry to be better.
Q: Do you think MNP will be the main play for DiGi to gain market share?
Dennelind: Well, it definitely removes the last barrier for the postpaid segment. Postpaid has been tough for us, because we came in late, and number savvy people want to keep their numbers. I think we don’t have that barrier anymore. I hope it will increase our revenue market share for postpaid, and I have seen some encouraging signs in that direction. So, if we do everything correctly over the next few years, and the others don’t, we can gain market share (via MNP).
Nevertheless, there are still a lot of virgin users out there, people who want to leave prepaid and move to postpaid. A lot of companies using fixed line, they want to go mobile. The penetration rate is not saturated yet, there’s still growth in the market.
Q: When are you going to launch 3G? Will it be early Q1 or late Q1?
Dennelind: The sooner the better. But, I don’t want to rush it. I want to make sure we have a solid go-to-market strategy.
Q: So, you don’t want to rush it (to launch 3G). Does it mean 3G launch could be dragged until Q2?
Dennelind: No. Then that will be very disappointing.
Q: Do you think DiGi can be the number one in mobile broadband space in three years?
Dennelind: When that happens, I think we should rent one of the twin towers and have a huge party. That’s not going to happen. We are realistic, but ambitious. We want to have a fair share in the mobile broadband market, and overtime, we are aiming for one-third of that market. Whether that is number one or number two in the market, that remains to be seen. We shouldn’t be far away from that.
To get a third of the mobile broadband market share is going to take more than three years, but we are here to stay.
I hope where we go in, we can surprise positively and deliver on their expectations. To do that, it’s going to be a momentum driver, that’s why we are not rushing and taking our time to launch.
Q: Have you seen any impact on new entrant?
Dennelind: I have seen a lot of adex (advertising expenditure) and share of voice, but I have seen very little impact on the revenue market share, none basically. If you count SIM cards, yeah, maybe it’s noticeable. But, so far very much according to what I expected. It is very hard (for the new entrants) to come into the market, which currently has three very strong players, and many positions have been taken.
Q: What can investors expect from DiGi next year? Will there be weaker earnings?
Dennelind: We have our guidance, and that still stands, which is clearly in these days, it is a very tough guidance, I must say.
Q: What can you promise potential DiGi 3G users?
Dennelind: I promise that we will try as hard as we can to live up to the expectations.
Q: Is it true that DiGi is the number one player in terms of foreign worker market segment?
Dennelind: Probably. We are well close related with great value for money.
Q: Lately, your rivals lowered call rates, one on the prepaid segment while the other on the foreign worker segment, what is DiGi going to do about it?
Dennelind: We’ll fight for the value proposition day and night. If someone slashes rates, we will make sure that we stay competitive. We won’t let go of that.
Q: Do you see price wars in 2009?
Dennelind: We don’t have price war. But I expect continuous price pressure. I hope we avoid price war.
Q: What’s the difference between price war and price pressure?
Dennelind: Price war is when you completely deteriorate the market and everybody undercuts on a big scale. That’s not good for the consumers, not good for the operators, consumers will get bad quality eventually, because you trigger a lot of traffic. And the operators will not be able to sustain the quality of service in eroding margins. I hope we can be rationale about it, which we have been.
And here’s the latest video interview by B.K Sidhu of TheStar: