ECONOMY

Q-Telecom cuts rates to lift share

Q-Telecom, the telecoms operator owned by IT company InfoQuest, yesterday signaled a more aggressive strategy to grab market share as it announced sharply reduced rates for fixed-line subscribers, effective October 1. Fixed-to-mobile calls will be cheaper by up to 18 percent, while fixed-line calls between Q-Telecom users will come down by 47 percent. International call rates will also be reduced by up to 10 percent. Q-Telecom’s move to slash its rates came after it reported a customer base of 11,000 clients for its mobile and fixed phone services three months after its launch. The company aims to capture 5 percent of the mobile phone market by 2004. Key to the success of the strategy is a highly competitive pricing policy, with the majority of rates substantially lower than its competitors. Long-distance calls even before yesterday’s announcement were projected to be 12 percent cheaper than other firms, mobile-to-mobile calls up to 13 percent lower and international calls 20 percent cheaper on average. Q-Telecom has further sought to outbid its rivals with charges by the second against OTE’s rates by the minute. Long-distance and international calls lasting more than four minutes get an additional 10 percent discount. On top of that, the company does not set a minimum duration for calls. Separately, mobile phone operator Vodafone Panafon received shareholders’ approval for a dividend payout of 11 cents per share at yesterday’s annual general meeting. Payment will begin on October 29. Shareholders also approved a deal with Intracom in which the telecommunications equipment manufacturer will supply advanced systems for short message services to Vodafone at a cost of 12.8 million euros. Intracom Chairman Socrates Kokkalis is also the president of Vodafone Panafon. Vodafone posted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 427.5 million euros, up 10 percent, in the financial year ending March 31, 2002. Revenues rose 17 percent to 990 million euros. The company racked up 3 million subscribers at the end of March, behind market leader CosmOTE. Giorgos Koronias, managing director, told shareholders yesterday the company plans to use its Albanian operations as a launch-pad for expansion into other Balkan countries.