GIG: At a national level, what does Greece need to do to help the country prepare for the digital era?
Sarsentis: Facts and figures show that Greece has a lot of work to do in order to prepare for the digital era. To succeed, there are three key factors: technology infrastructure and new generation networks, digitalisation of the public and private sectors, and a change in mindset.
Infrastructure is improving significantly as technology evolves, and that’s a never-ending pursuit, with OTE being always at the forefront. Greece needs to digitise to gain in quality, in efficiency, and in wealth – in every aspect. The state could and should digitise all its activities to improve the services offered to Greek citizens and promote transparency; businesses need to adopt digitalisation to
become more efficient and improve their services; and citizens need to adopt technologies and stop being technophobic if we are to progress.
There is considerable progress, already, and many aspects of life are being digitalised. And if we want that impact to be positive, it depends on us to adopt a digital mind-set – we could achieve a significant positive impact for all.
GIG: OTE Group has announced a plan to invest €2 billion until 2022. Can you tell us a little more about this plan? What other investment plans is OTE moving ahead with?
Sarsentis: Going forward to a Gigabit Society, telecommunications’ biggest challenge is to keep up with customer demand for faster internet connections, both in fixed and mobile, as they consume and create content. Having state-of-the-art networks requires significant capital investments. And those companies in a position to meet customers’ requirements in the digital era will thrive.
ΟΤΕ Group has committed to invest a total of €2 billion until 2022 in Greece. Within this total, OTE aims to make available FTTH to 1 million homes, or approximately 25% of all Greek households. This is, by far, the largest investment by a Greek telco and follows another period of major investments in the previous four years, of equivalent size, when OTE rolled out fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) to about two thirds of the population and established the best 4G network in the country.
At the same time, the group is preparing for the next generation of wireless communication, 5G, which is expected to signal an era of high speeds and unlimited capabilities.
GIG: As Greece adapts to the digital age, where are the opportunities for OTE?
Sarsentis: OTE Group is at the forefront of adopting digital technologies and spreading innovative applications widely. It needs to invest in new technologies and will continue doing so whether this is FTTH, 5G, or other technological developments. The group believes that the investments will offer consumers superior services and will, at the same time, pay off.
OTE is also adopting digital technologies in its own processes to increase efficiencies and improve the services offered. A typical example is the COSMOTE mobile app – consumers can now manage their tariffs, pay their bills, and add or change their services through a very user-friendly application; similar gains can be achieved in other areas. For this, OTE’s management team has compiled a 360-degree digital transformation programme, which will lead it on its new journey, help it adopt a digital mind-set, and allow it to exploit digital capabilities to the benefit of its customers, employees, partners, and suppliers.
In addition, OTE Group contributes to the dynamic transition of businesses to the new era, offering advanced services and ICT technology solutions. Through the implementation of a number of large and complex projects, OTE Group has proved prominent in scale and expertise to fundamentally contribute to the digital transformation of every organisation. And OTE is, of course, supporting the broader state sector in digitising to offer improved services to people. Recent examples where OTE has partnered with municipalities are Smart City applications such as street lighting, smart parking, etc., that directly enhance living conditions
GIG: Why should someone invest in OTE?
Sarsentis: By steadily investing in the best infrastructure in the country, OTE is also achieving its financial targets and focusing on sustainable growth. The investments are already generating positive returns, as consumers constantly strive for advanced broadband services, in fixed and mobile, where OTE offers excellent customer experience.
This is driving OTE Group’s growth, which in turn leads to sustainable shareholder returns, as the company is committed to a transparent policy, of returning all cash flow generated annually to its shareholders.