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Ahid Mursaliyev

AZERBAIJAN - Telecoms & IT

Down The Wire

Acting CEO, Azercell Telecom


Vahid Mursaliyev is the Acting CEO of Azercell. Prior to obtaining this position, he worked as the Head of the Legal Department after joining the company in 2005. Since then, he has worked at various top management positions including as a General Counselor to the CEO and Director of Legal Affairs and General Administration department. In 2000-01, he obtained his PhD in Corporate Management from Case Western Reserve University in US. He is a member of International Bar Association, and Doctor of International Eco-energy Academy. He is also a graduate of the Faculty of Law from Baku State University.

TBY talks to Vahid Mursaliyev, Acting CEO of Azercell Telecom, on new technologies and services, subscriber numbers, and the growth of SMEs.

How can Azercell continue to be a technological pioneer in Azerbaijan in the coming years?

Since 1996, we have pioneered numerous products, brought the most advanced technologies to Azerbaijan and the region, and provided the best customer experience. Our biggest subscriber family Azercell covers 99.8% of the population and 80% of Azerbaijan’s territory, excluding the 20% comprising occupied territories. Despite high levels of competition, more than half of Azerbaijan’s mobile telecom market chooses Azercell. Our clients have always been the central figure around which we built our business and this helps us to stay different. We pioneered the deployment of LTE in Azerbaijan, the platform on which to develop next generation technologies and services. We have 4G in Baku and the entire Absheron peninsula, and are looking to expand into the regions soon. Over the last two years, we have expanded our network by 25% and in 2014 we installed 169 2G/3G radio base stations. With the help of second carriers, we installed 969 stations, expanded our 3G network on a record-high level—in the country by 48%, and in Baku by 92%. According to MCHT’s research, Azercell provides the highest speed of Mobile Data in the country. In 2015, we expect huge growth of data usage as we have had 200%, 300%, and 1,000% growth of data usage recently. In 2014, data transmission in our network increased by 60%. Last year, the number of smartphones increased by 38% in our market, while the range of applications become increasingly data intensive. We aim to bring affordable smartphones to the regions outside the capital in particular, and we are determined to offer devices that are desirable and affordable.

In November 2014, the number of Azercell subscribers exceeded 4.5 million. How significant is this achievement?

Despite the fact that Azercell leads the country’s mobile market, mobile penetration has already exceeded 110%. There has been a steady increase of our subscriber base each year, and we forecast a continuous rise of this figure due to Azercell’s commitment to our customer. A successful customer-centered initiative was the continuation of our program for the development of mobile communication in the regions. Starting from June to October 2014, we implemented a unique regional project in 13 cities of Azerbaijan and let our local clients benefit from a wide range of discount campaigns. Following this, we have increased our regional market share by 5%. In 2014, we started to calculate Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure our customer loyalty and better understand their needs. In 2014, our largest front office in Baku started to operate from 09:00 until 23:00 for the convenience of our customers.

Looking ahead to the first European Games in June, what advantages does Azercell have that can support the organization of this event and what further possibilities can it present?

Azercell has provided our multi-operational system at the main venues of Baku European Games 2015, which will enable other operators to provide their network through our in-building solutions technology. Azercell will keep high network quality and introduce new services to meet customer demands during the whole event.

The ICT sector has become a target sector for the growth of SMEs. In what ways can Azercell support this objective?

This is an important topic for our future business perspectives. Azercell wants to move from a SIM-card selling culture to solution providing and always anticipating customer needs. M2M technology, long touted as the next big thing in the communications revolution, is present in Azerbaijan and utilized by a number of sectors. Azercell is the widest provider of M2M solutions among mobile operators In Azerbaijan. M2M can also help smaller companies to compete. Azercell’s Barama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center was launched in 2009 and has supported the development of entrepreneurship in ICT. In 2014, Azercell introduced a new concept office of Barama with a larger space, and equipped with the necessary tools for more effective implementation of ideas for future entrepreneurs. Young start-ups from Barama have successfully introduced their innovative technological projects during BakuTel 2014. Home Security System Sumaks by Barama help to control daily household processes using mobile phones. If there is a problem while the user is not at home, the system automatically sends SMS notification to the user’s mobile. These solutions provide an opportunity for users to plan daily activities more efficiently and benefit from the use of handheld devices.



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