Turkish pioneer opens telecoms market

Avea aims to embrace the changes the internet has brought about, to bring technological enlightenment to Turkey, writes CEO Erkan Akdemir


We are living in a time in which global change is much greater than 10 years ago. Whether social, economic or political, all aspects of life are changing. The dynamics of this period, which have been dubbed the ‘new normal’, are quite different to anything we have seen before.

The role of communication and mobile technologies in this change process is unquestionable. In today’s world, which has become more like a global village, we are able to follow emerging developments in any time or place with only our mobile phones; express our thoughts via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook with the help of mobile internet, and come together with thousands, even hundreds-of-thousands of people under a common objective to form pressure groups.

Not only people, but also devices and machines, virtually everything will be connected to each other and accessible at any time through sensors, barcodes, RFID tags and similar techniques

There is no longer any need to make plans for tomorrow, the day after, or even years ahead. Information technologies connect people with each other through mobile networks.

Now, billions of mobile phone users experience the comfort and convenience of reaching instant and real-time information independently, any time, any place. This development is so rapid that in 2012, the proportion of smartphones in the mobile arena increased to as high as 37 percent. This is quite remarkable.

What this really means is that the digital age has been transformed into the mobile age.

Estimations about this are very impressive: the number of mobile internet users worldwide exceeded two billion at the beginning of 2011, and is predicted to reach at least half of the world’s population by 2015. According to predictions, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold during the next four years.

Sending the right signals
follows these developments closely, and continues to passionately invest in this field. The number of mobile internet users among our 13 million customers has reached 4.25 million people – 100 percent higher than the previous year. Our total mobile internet income reached TRY 171.7m during the first half of 2012. When we compare this with our mobile internet income realised three years ago, the increase rate is 377 percent. Our income has reached TRY 1.643bn, an increase of 27 percent during the past three years; our EBITDA has reached TRY 165m; and our ARPU (average revenue per user) has reached TRY 20.6. On June 2009, when I took up this position, the half-year financial results were TRY 55m and TRY 15.3 in terms of EBITDA and ARPU respectively.

In Turkey, the information sector is passing through a major transformation and getting ahead of many other sectors. Of the 66 million mobile phone users, 36 million of them are 3G subscribers. Avea has become a name synonymous with innovation in the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) field with both its campaigns and tariffs, and its corporate solutions. With its renewed management, Avea has become a more self-assured brand. The vision brought out by our new management approach is reflected in all of our business units, from operational activities to human resources management, and from marketing to R&D.

Investing in the future
We started our journey with a strong staff. We kept the mindset that success can only come by working as a team. We announced 2010 as the ‘quality’ year, and 2011 as the ‘investment’ year. The investment in sales and retail channels, and the improvement of our service, has brought growth to our company.

Avea, which is listed among the 500 most valuable brands worldwide, is also the most competitive and innovative telecommunication and technology company. In our eight-year history under the brand of Avea, we have been the game-changing player. Our whole ethos revolves around making things ‘work’ better. In the first half of 2012 – our eighth year – we shaped the competition with our drive on innovation; the steady growth we have seen because of it confirms it is the right road to take.

At Avea, we want to become Turkey’s technology base. So that Turkey can become an information society, we have made, and continue to make, R&D investments, to give Turkey the most recent technologies and allow it to benefit from rapid access to information.

In accordance with our mentioned investments, as the technology company having the first and only licensed R&D centre in Turkey; we have performed exemplary work in mobile finance, mobile health and smart city fields, not only for Turkey, but also for the world. With our applications involving many sectors and corporations from finance to entertainment, from smart home to smart city, from education to local managements, from health to agriculture, from tourism to transportation, we bring technology to people, not people to technology. In AveaLabs Customer Experience Centre, within the R&D Centre, we give people the opportunity to experience the applications that will form the future of technology.

The technology bridge
During the next 10 years, the ‘internet of things’ will leave its mark on the communication sector. Not only people, but also devices and machines, virtually everything will be connected to each other and accessible at any time through sensors, barcodes, RFID tags and similar techniques. When implementing all these, to create value not only for Avea but also for our country, we’ve joined forces in the field of R&D with leading universities such as Bogazici University and ITU in Turkey and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) abroad.

Eight leaderships in eight years
As the youngest company of the telecommunication sector in Turkey, Avea aims to become the market leader using the power it garners from the Turk Telekom Group, its affiliate. At Avea, we have reached leading positions in the following fields, among others:
1. Average revenue per year
2. Call minutes per person
3. Proportion of post-paid customers
4. Proportion of smart devices
5. Increase rate of mobile internet
6. Mobile number transfers
7. Increase rate of number of customers
8. Avea is the sector leader in Turkey in terms of number of exclusive retailers.

From 1861 to today, MIT’s motto, and the principle which inspired its logo, is “Mens et Manus”, Latin for ‘mind and head’. We, based on this motto, use the phrase ‘technology bridge’ for our collaboration between Avea and MIT, and set our goal as converting AveaLabs to a world-renowned research and innovation centre in the mobile sector.  We see our collaboration with MIT as a bridge both to create smart solutions and applications for both our individual and corporate customers, and to bring the global R&D perspective to young engineers. Technological leadership is one of the most important leverages which allows corporations to stand out among their competitors. Within this context, Avea has focused on ensuring that Turkey becomes a country that not only consumes, but also generates, technology.

Focusing on the next generation
One of Avea’s top priorities is to make peoples’ lives easier and to increase opportunities to young people. Avea implements innovative projects with corporate citizenship awareness in a wide range of fields, from education to entrepreneurship, from employment to sports, from culture to art, removing borders, supporting individuals and offering possibilities for them to create a difference by providing equal opportunities. For this, as the GSM operator with the highest call rates in Europe, we have made an agreement with FCBarcelona, ranked number one in the ‘Best Football Teams in the World’ by the International Federation of Fooball History & Statistics (IFFHS), to collaborate together in shaping Turkey’s future football stars at FCBEscola Camp Avea. The camps have been designed on the general principles and know-how of FCBEscola.

In collaboration with the Turkey School Sports Federation (TOSF), young football talents aged between nine and 14 from all around Turkey participated in elections carried out in Van, Izmir and Istanbul in June this year, where 120 candidates were elected. During the first camp period these young talents learned the path to success and the techniques they need to succeed from the trainers of Barcelona’s stars.

In addition, all materials needed by these young talents were covered by Avea. In the second camp period to be carried out in November, this opportunity will be offered to another 120 young talents. During our camps the candidates are given information and training about football to reveal their inner talents and improve their nutrition programmes. Another feature about our project is the fact that during the two camp periods 24 trainers also receive teaching from Barcelona’s trainers. By offering this opportunity, we will ensure sustainability, so our 24 trainers will be able to convey these experience and knowledge to future students. Being the ‘Turkish Official Telecommunication Business partner’ of FC Barcelona, Avea has made the dreams of 18 young people come true by taking them to Nou Camp, Barcelona, for training.

Despite being a young brand, we are the most entrepreneurial company in the sector. Our work has led to respected broadcasting corporations and universities in Turkey choosing Avea as the GSM company of the year and myself as the CEO of the year. It is only by working as a team that this has been possible.