Telecommunications have played an increasingly important role in Ukrainian economic growth and Georgii Dzekon, chairman of Ukrtelecom
, believes that it is now possible to see the significant financial advantages that have emerged from the sector’s development.
“In today’s day and age, people are not able to survive without the Internet. They cannot survive without access to broadband connection for daily tasks such as shopping, buying theater tickets, or for education purposes,” he says. “The Internet is a part of nearly everyone’s daily life and it is absolutely true that telecommunication is what provides people with such connectivity.”
Due to the high necessity of the telecommunication industry, Ukrtelecom was able to make it out of the financial crisis unscathed, and has stayed buoyant throughout the downturn without having to sacrifice much in revenue or in clients. “Regardless of whether we were facing a financial crisis, people did not stop text messaging, making phone calls, or using the Internet,” says Mr. Dzekon.
Earlier this year, Ukrtelecom was privatized when Austrian investment firm EPIC bought a 92.79% stake in the company from the Ukrainian government. Sold for $1.3 billion, it is the biggest privatization deal made under this administration.
|REGARDLESS OF WHETHER WE WERE FACING A FINANCIAL CRISIS, PEOPLE DID NOT STOP TEXT MESSAGING, MAKING PHONE CALLS, OR USING THE INTERNET|
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is also in need of Ukrtelecom’s services and the Ukrainian company has recently signed to become the main telecommunications provider for the UEFA Euro 2012 soccer championship in Ukraine, providing land lines, cellular connections, Internet service, Internet high-speed channels and more. However, it is more difficult to evaluate exactly how much the company will financially benefit from the event.
“I know exactly how many millions of dollars they need, I know exactly how much UEFA is ready to pay us, and I know the gap in between the two numbers,” says Mr. Dzekon. “All other benefits out of this business may come later on and it is very hard to assess how much we may earn, but I do believe it will be a huge event and a huge opportunity.”
Despite all of the company’s recent activities, Mr. Dzekon encourages the prospect of Ukrtelecom and other countries to form mutually beneficial relationships through exchanges of expertise in the telecoms sector. “We have very close relationships with the leading American companies working in telecommunications. There are billions of dollars in telecommunications equipment coming from the private sector. Foreign companies are able to train their staff here in Ukraine. We also have very close relationships with British Telecom and with Deutsche Telecom,” says Mr. Dzekon.
“People from the United States want to be able to reach Ukraine for business needs or to reach friends and family. Due to this, companies such as AT&T, Verizon or Sprint should sign an interconnection agreement with Ukrtelecom. We have many interconnection agreements with all the largest American companies.”