Carriers mount challenge

Two of the country’s more aggressive alternative telecoms carriers yesterday sounded a note of warning to incumbent operator OTE as they announced ambitious plans to carve out a substantial role for themselves in the highly competitive telecoms market. Forthnet, the Internet service provider-cum-alternative telecoms carrier, and Vivodi, another of the telecoms aspirants that have mushroomed in the wake of the deregulation of the industry, are believed to be among the new operators with the capability and expertise to seize market share from OTE. OTE last year saw its wireline EBITDA fall 8 percent, PSTN lines down by 3.5 percent and traffic, excluding Internet connections, decline 6 percent, underlining the heat from competitors. Forthnet yesterday reiterated its target of a 5 percent market share by 2005. Since making its debut in April, it has signed up 155,000 subscribers, with average revenues per user amounting to about 16 euros per month and average airtime per user surpassing 4.5 hours on a monthly basis. Forthnet is aiming to double revenues to 64 million euros this year and lift EBITDA to 10 million euros from 4 million euros in 2002, with the goal of achieving a marginal profit. Vivodi, which marked its two years in operation yesterday, said it has 270,000 subscribers, of which 32,000 are fixed-telephony clients. Success has come about as the company zoomed into the corporate market, with 90 percent of clients coming from this segment. Pantelis Papadopoulos, managing director, said the company plans to set up 26 hubs countrywide this year, increasing its network to 100 hubs. It has agreements with France Telecom, PCCW, Wavecrest Interoute, MCI and Equant, allowing it to offer global coverage.

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