ECONOMY

Telepassport sets ambitious goals for 2003

Telepassport Hellas, one of 12 alternative carriers that have sprung up in Greece since the telecommunications market was deregulated two years ago, yesterday sounded a note of warning to incumbent OTE as it set an ambitious revenue target for this year and disclosed its interest in the Balkans. Revenues are expected to soar above 50 million euros this year, a near four-fold increase from the 13.4 million euros posted a year ago, Chief Executive Evangelos Savouris said. Telepassport is a joint venture set up by German and Greek investors five years ago. The bold target came as the company unveiled the massive gains it has made in both subscribers and earnings in the first five months of 2003. Revenues in the January to May period rose 616 percent to 13.93 million euros, with users growing 293 percent to 429,755 and the number of connections approaching 665,000, slightly more than a tenth of OTE’s connections. Savouris said growth prospects are good for alternative providers. «The average European penetration rate for alternative carriers is 38 percent. I think we could achieve this level in Greece,» he said. OTE saw its market share decline to 93 percent in the first quarter and expects a loss of 22-25 percent in the medium term. Competitive and uncomplicated pricing has been key to Telepassport’s growth, in particular its single tariff – 15 cents per minute – for 35 popular international destinations. It slashed rates for long-distance calls made on Sunday by 37.5 percent to 0.025 cents per minute effective this month to mid-September, emulating OTE’s tactic. Telepassport plans to launch Internet services in the summer and will also be offering carrier pre-selection services shortly to customers. The company is also eying expansion into the Balkans even as it is due to launch commercial operations in Cyprus via Telepassport Cyprus, its joint venture with Germany’s Mobilcom, said Savouris. «The next step is the Balkans. We are holding talks in Romania. As markets in the region open up, we’ll be there to check out the situation for expansion,» he said.