ECONOMY

Debut for Q-Telecom service

Q-Telecom, the telecommunications subsidiary of information technology company InfoQuest, is due to make its commercial debut today in an increasingly crowded sector. The company said yesterday that it has successfully conducted a test run and was now ready to offer nationwide mobile and fixed-telephony services. Q-Telecom will be the newest fixed-line telecoms operator with the capability to service the entire population. According to data from the National Telecommunications and Post, up to last December, three operators were able to provide direct access for all categories of calls to subscribers around the country. Since the deregulation of the telecommunications market last year, 224 companies have received general operating licenses from the telecoms watchdog. Others are presently waiting in the wings for approval. Subscribers to Q-Telecom can get access to its fixed-telephony services by dialing 1765 and to its mobile services via 099. The services will initially be available only in Athens and Thessaloniki. The company has signed onto the networks of the three existing mobile operators and fixed-telephony group OTE, offsetting its current lack of antennae. Q-Telecom’s biggest hurdle will be in the mobile sector as it seeks to wrest market share from the three incumbents amid slowing subscriber growth. Theodore Fessas, Info-Quest head, has said the operator aims to compete with a package of more competitive services and slightly lower rates. It has targeted a 5-percent market share by 2004. The nominal mobile penetration rate is estimated at around 70 percent. The company expects to generate positive EBITDA and cashflow within three years of its launch. Revenues this year are projected at 15 million euros, rising tenfold to 150 million euros in 2004. The 77-year-old Ecevit is now recuperating at home after two extended hospital stays in May to treat a series of ailments, including blood clots in his left leg and a broken rib.