Striving to be the Data Leader on the Market


Mohamed ElSayad

Thanks to its customer experience-oriented strategy, Telenor Hungary says its annual revenue from mobile services is showing very healthy growth. As Mohamed ElSayad, chief commercial officer at the telco tells the Budapest Business Journal, the hunger for data will grow with the number of connected devices increasing. Telenor aims to serve related customer demand by being the data leader on the market.

BBJ: How has the telco landscape changed in the past year? Your neck-to-neck race to the second-biggest operator in Hungary tells a tale of fierce competition.

Mohamed ElSayad: We are like big football clubs; there is a constant rivalry between us, which is totally normal. We’ve been hiring the best talent in the past three years since the takeover by PPF Group, and regarding annual revenue from mobile services, we’ve had very healthy growth. We aim to stay on this growth track while offering the best customer experience we can. We are planning to use our recently extended operator license to enhance the latter further. Part of this effort is home internet services, and this is where we are stepping out of the role of being a mobile-only operator to become an integrated operator in the long term.

BBJ: Why is there a demand for your home internet in the first place? Broadband is traditionally strong in Hungary; infrastructure is the factor Hungary can pride herself on when it comes to digitalization.

MES: Indeed, the infrastructure is world-class; yet, there are still areas in the country that are not that well-connected. People also tend to leave their provider for emotional reasons. Ultimately, it’s about being able to supply customer demand wherever you are, whether at home, in the office, or on the go. What matters is the stability and speed of the connection. The quest for integrated operations is a global trend where more people want to be served by just one single operator, and that’s where we are headed.

BBJ: Being connected became even more crucial during the pandemic. How did you respond to the situation?

MES: For starters, we gave customers 100 Gigabytes of data for free. Demand for data was soaring, and we wanted everybody to know that we were there for them no matter what. We also made available a more reliable internet connection with bigger data packages. Contactless services were in high demand; therefore, we focused on them more strongly than before. For one, we were the first to introduce mobile account-based ticket and pass purchases for public transportation in Hungary. The need for contactless is here to stay, so we are constantly working on these types of services.

BBJ: There are some three million dogs in Hungary, and in Budapest, every fourth adult has one. Is that why it was important to appeal to dog owners by making stores dog-friendly?

MES: Being a dog owner myself, I can confirm that it’s a massive relief if you don’t have to leave your dog outside when running your errands. In Hungary, more and more people have pets. Telenor introduced dog days in the office a few years ago, and it has been very popular with employees. Customers love our dog-friendly approach too. And the dog trackers we’ve been giving out to help monitor the different records of pets are a hit.

BBJ: This animal-friendly approach must come in handy at your community store at Astoria, too, I imagine.

MES: Our flagship store had some unused space we wanted to share with the public. Now you can go to work and hang out there; the internet is provided. Co-working is picking up anyway, and everybody clearly appreciates what this location has to offer.

BBJ: I understand several eco measures are at play at Telenor as well.

MES: Indeed, we are very much dedicated to the cause of environmentalism. For one, using split SIM cards help us cut plastic consumption. Thanks to our effort to go paperless, some 80% of our B2B customers already sign electronically, and we are also thinking about relying on renewable energy in the future.

BBJ: How high up the customers’ agenda is handset insurance?

MES: The number of hours Hungarians spend using their phone has constantly been going up, which increases the probability that something unpleasant could happen to your handset. With devices getting more expensive, people love that they can be insured against damage. In parallel, we are getting into offering insurance for other devices too, and our plans include the introduction of travel insurance, or, basically, any additional insurance that can be activated easily on the go.

BBJ: Smartphone-based internet traffic went from 62 million Gigabytes in Q4 2019 to 87 million GB in one year, a trend that is set to continue. How are you preparing to serve this ever-growing mobile data hunger?

MES: Screens are getting bigger, people don’t mind spending more time glued to them, and the number of connected devices is also soaring, so there is a good reason for the 30% increase you mentioned. Telenor is known for providing generous data packages as we want to be the data leader on the market. Being connected has actually become a human right by now, and we are delighted to help you exercise it. Dubai, where I used to work, set the goal to become the happiest country in the world through technology as it makes you more efficient, thus also more pleased. Tech should, therefore, serve a bigger purpose for humanity.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of November 5, 2021.

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