Friday, July 01, 2011
Last week I attended Telecom World Congress 2011, where I was invited to speak about infrastructure investment. There are few countries in the world where the topic takes higher priority than Russia, and given that we cross nine time zones, probably no nation where the challenge is more daunting. So it was a privilege to share with global telecom leaders which technologies we’re finding most cost effective, and how we’re managing network capacity through fair usage policies and traffic optimization (see presentation below).
The conference lasted three days, and regrettably I was only able to attend the last one. But I attended some informative sessions and thought I’d share my favorites.
Karl-Michael Henneking and Jochen Dinger from Detecon gave their insights on the options telcos have to capture shares of the “over-the-top” business. They have highlighted mobile video calling, telepresence services, video game streaming and IPTV as services with a significant revenue potential for telcos. One approach they suggest is locking in customers with a convenient to use platform of services, e.g. with a single set top box supporting a broad range of applications from IPTV and video on demand services to gaming, which eventually establishes a smart hub in customers’ homes. This is an option MTS has already started exploring with a launch of online media portal Omlet.ru with a unique portfolio of thousands of movies from Russian and major Hollywood studios. As demand for the legal video content in Russia grows, we are improving Omlet’s infrastructure, having recently enabled users to store purchased content in the cloud and stream it to devices including PC or Mac computers, smartphones, set-top boxes and TV-sets.
Telecom Operators Role in Convergence
The panel discussion with Portugal Telecom’s Manuel Rosa da Silva and Level 3’s Daniel Sjoberg focused on how telecom operators are becoming key players in the converged world. It echoed the main theme of the conference of how telecom operators are moving away from traditional voice services towards new revenue growth streams. Manuel was very optimistic about our function here. He showed how telecom operators can become more than “dumb pipes” by launching innovative content offerings and leveraging customers’ demand for non-linear multi-screen experience. Again, very much like what we are trying to achieve with Omlet.ru.
Presentation: Looking at the roadmap for future infrastructure investment
Monday, February 14, 2011
We are happy to announce that we have recently signed a cooperation agreement between MTS-owned content portal Omlet.ru and KinoPoisk.Ru, the largest and most popular online movie database in Russian.
Omlet.ru content portal was launched by MTS in the fall of 2009, offering a large selection of licensed movies, music and games for mobile and computer users. There are about 1,000 movies and TV series available on Omlet.ru today, both Russian and foreign, including a selection of Disney, Universal, and Paramount Pictures movies, and the catalogue is constantly updated with new releases and classic hits. The functionality of KinoPoisk.Ru (translated in Russian as “movie search”) is somewhat similar to imdb.com as it contains information on actors, production crew personnel and enables users to search and rate movies, post reviews and chat.
Under the agreement, links to Omlet.ru have been added to movie descriptions on the KinoPoisk.Ru website, which will enable users to purchase or rent movies they like in a matter of just a few clicks. KinoPoisk.Ru also now features a list of the most popular movies according to the Omlet.ru statistics.
MTS expects that the partnership with KinoPoisk.Ru will expand the Omlet.ru audience - that currently stands at 1.5 million unique visitors a month - by around 100 000 with 15% of the new users regularly purchasing content.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
We are pleased to announce that VivaCell-MTS, a majority-owned subsidiary of MTS in Armenia, has recently launched a special LTE test zone in central Yerevan. This will enable VivaCell-MTS subscribers to test this innovative technology with modems that support the 4G standard. This is the first step in a full-scale nationwide network roll-out. MTS is building the network in cooperation with the leading international suppliers - Ericsson and Huawei.
LTE is a “fourth generation” technology that is more advanced than 3.5G/HSPA and HSPA+ technologies already deployed in Armenia. 4G network allows for up to 150 Mbps download and up to 50 Mbps upload rates.
Armenia is the second country where MTS is building a LTE network. In July 2010, MTS became the first mobile operator to launch a 4G network into commercial operation in Uzbekistan.
Friday, October 08, 2010
We have recently launched in Russia a new service called EasyPayment. The subscribers can now pay for different services, both MTS’s and other companies’ using their mobiles by transferring funds from either their bank or personal accounts with MTS. EasyPayment allows payments for municipal services, cable TV, landline, Internet and many others with low to no commission.
Each transaction takes 1-2 minutes with the minimum transaction amount equal to RUB 10 and the maximum to RUB 15,000 for payments from a MTS personal account and up to RUB 30,000 for payments using a bank account.
The user interface for payments allows a greater degree of flexibility as subscribers can now use special applications developed for handsets on the Windows Mobile, Symbian and iPhone operating systems. The Android version is currently being developed. The applications can be downloaded following receipt of a SMS message containing a link to the download page. iPhone users can find the application in the Apple App Store. The subscribers also can make payments using a web-portal or the USSD-service*.
For EasyPayment, MTS partnered with the Bank of Moscow, 1st Processing Bank, a supplier of e-commerce solutions Intervale and the QIWI payment system.
EasyPayment is an improvement from a previous service MTS-Pay that was launched in October 2008 and allowed subscribers to only transfer funds using their bank accounts. In June 2010 we won the prestigious Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award in the “Consumer bank-card innovation” for MTS-Pay.
We consider the mobile payment market in Russia to have good growth prospects on the back of strong existing demand. Given the country’s high wireless penetration and the relatively low credit card penetration and indeed use, services such as MTS’ EasyPayment that allow to use mobile accounts to make payments could play an important part in the development of mobile commerce in Russia. Our projects in this field include money transfers (launched in April 2010); as well as the partnership with the Moscow Metro allowing passengers to buy tickets using their mobiles at the turnstiles utilizing the NFC** technology (tentative launch at the end of 2010).
* USSD - Unstructured Supplementary Service Data.
** NFC - Near Field Communication.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Global Telecoms Business (GTB), a leading telecommunications trade magazine, ranked MTS President and CEO, Mikhail Shamolin, the 26th most powerful telecommunications professional globally in its annual “Power 100” list of leading industry executives. The 2010 ranking, determined by reader-submitted nominations, is an improvement from last year’s placing of Shamolin at #29. GTB acknowledged several milestone achievements at MTS over the past year as the cause.
“Mikhail Shamolin is the president and CEO of MTS, which operates in Russia and the CIS. Since May 2008, Shamolin has driven corporate transformation through MTS’s entrance into fixed-line services through the acquisition of Comstar-UTS, the provider of integrated telecommunication solutions in Russia, and the launch of Omlet.ru, an online content portal.
“During Shamolin’s tenure, first as head of MTS’s Russian business and then CEO of MTS, the company’s core markets have delivered nearly 20% compound annual revenue growth since 2005 and developed into the world’s ninth largest telecommunications company by subscriber numbers.”
The full 2010 ranking is available on GTB’s website.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
We are proud to share two articles in the Financial Times published this week, reporting on MTS and our content portal, Omlet.ru. We have talked about Omlet.ru in this blog before and it has recently received Meffys award.
During our trip to New York to celebrate the 10th anniversary of listing on the NYSE, Mikhail Shamolin, President and CEO of MTS, met with the Financial Times journalists. Mikhail talked about content distribution in Russia, how we can overcome the piracy grip, and why MTS has a window of opportunity to carve a strong position in the potentially lucrative content market.
Here are the articles:
Financial Times, Russian Omlet mushrooms with legal downloads
Financial Times, Russia’s MTS in talks to boost web content
Friday, February 19, 2010
Pavel Roytberg, Director for Products and Services at MTS Russia, receives the GSMA Global Mobile Award.
We have attended the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week and wanted to share some highlights of MTS at the show for the readers of our blog.
In a video interview below with Light Reading TV, Dr. Michael Hecker
, Vice President for Strategy and Corporate Development at MTS, discusses the rising demand for data in our markets, our growth outlook and plans for LTE.
There have also been a number of announcements at the show relevant to MTS:
- We have been honored with the GSMA 15th Annual Global Mobile Award in the “Best Billing & Customer Care Solution” category for our “Your Individual Optimal Tariff Plan” service. MTS became the first mobile operator from Russia and the CIS to be recognized with one of the most prestigious awards in the telecommunications industry.
- MTS Ukraine has selected Alcatel-Lucent to conduct a Long Term Evolution (LTE) trial, which will begin in the second half of 2010.
- MTS is teaming up with Opera Software to provide a co-branded version of the Opera Mini browser. This will provide our subscribers with access to a customized Opera Mini start page when they download the browser on their mobile phones.
- Vantrix, the global leader of mobile video optimization and delivery solutions, announced that it was selected by MTS to provide a video delivery solution for Omlet.ru, MTS’ online and mobile content portal.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
MTS is pleased to announce that we launched the first MTS Comstar bundle offer – the STREAM Versatile Box product – through our retail stores in Moscow and Zelenograd, a Moscow suburb, in December 2009. This is one of the first steps of our previously announced Comstar integration plans following our acquisition of the company in October 2009.
The bundle includes a ZTE ZXDSL 831 A II modem that supports ADSL2+ technology and the IPTV service, a StreamWizard auto-configuration CD to help set the necessary Internet settings on the PC using the Plug-and-Play standard, and a scratch card with an authentication code to enable access to the Internet, as well as the user’s personal cabinet.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Last week, we launched Omlet.ru
– an online and mobile content portal that offers the largest selection of licensed videos, music and games. The goal behind this is to further stimulate our content revenues, which already contribute significantly to our performance. For example, content revenues for the full year 2008 were around 9 billion rubles with the second quarter 2009 revenues growing 31% year-on-year.
The new content portal is unique to our markets as it offers a high degree of interoperability between mobile devices and PCs / laptops as well as the necessary flexibility in terms of access network (e.g. EDGE vs. 3G) and phone model. Omlet.ru
also offers a “dual delivery” system, whereby purchased music tracks can be downloaded to both a mobile device and a computer.
Given the nature of our business, MTS is best positioned to offer paid content as we already have the necessary financial arrangements with our subscribers and can utilize their pre-paid accounts for content purchases. This differs from the Western markets where the vast majority of content stores rely on credit card payments whereas the Russian credit market is still its early development stages.
By the virtue of our customer base and brand recognition, our content portal has already become a major force in the Russian Internet space. In test mode since April 2009, the portal attracted around 1.5 million users. It must be noted that there is a lack of legal content providers in Russia at the moment, and piracy is widespread. MTS is one of a few companies able to sign partnerships with the entertainment industry’s major players. Recently, we signed an agreement with Paramount Pictures that allows our customers to watch streaming videos for free and download them for a price lower than they would pay for a pirated copy on the streets.