turk-internet.com : Mr Bienaime you are the chairman of UMTS. Could you tell us what is UMTS forum?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :UMTS Forum is an international trade association composed of operators, manufacturers, regulators, and some application developers. We were founded in 1996 acting under European Commission at that time in order to encourage, promote and help to standardize of the 3G UMTS production in Europe and all over the world. The reason why there is this cross-sector composition of the form of the members is we take consensus based positions to respond to considerations, to issue white papers, pres releases, reports like that is presented today in order to make progress in the mobile industry and towards mobile broad band evolution.
turk-internet.com : Why are you here Mr. Bienaime?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :I am here with my colleagues because I do double title. First we are organizing our general assembly. We have 3 general assembly meetings in a year in which we organize members’ premises. And it is at the occasion is the membership of Turkcell as a new full member of the UMTS Forum.
turk-internet.com : Turkcell is it the sole member from Turkey or are there any other members?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :There is Avea also, but Avea is an associate member where as Turkcell is a full member.
turk-internet.com : What about Vodafone?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :Vodafone is not a member although they can be. At least no problem for us.
turk-internet.com : What will you talk about in your general assembly here in Istanbul meeting I mean?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :In our general assembly we deal mainly with internal matters of the UMTS Forum such as working progress and reports progress. For instance we are finalizing the report with the consulting company Analysys Mason on spectrum and regulatory conditions in Africa. So this is another topic but this is of quite importance for our members. We will also be passing reviews on the works of our spectrum aspects groups of our other working groups in mobile TV and technology. And we will decide on later studies to be pursued for instance.
turk-internet.com : What are you thinking about Turkish mobile operator medium? Do you think if we are late too much for 3G? And what are the challenges and opportunities to launch late in Turkey?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :You are quite right but as i told previously “the delay can become an opportunity”. That is to say that as long as Turkcell is a strong 2G GSM operator it has the installed bases, the customer base, to deploy on which to deploy in 3G. And of course it is late compared with others for instance European operators but, technology is fast progressing and Turkcell will benefit from the progress of technologies to launch on higher speeds, more recent technology evolution. For instance the other greatens of musical began with the “3G” WiMax with 384 kb. Then Turkcell and also Avea will launch from now on the more efficient technology as HSPA with more speed and more capacity. And they plan to rapidly to launch HSPA first, which will bring still more profits and more comfort of use for the customers. So if they are successful, which i wish, they will transform first or previous delay into a technological opportunity.
turk-internet.com : 3G or UMTS is coming from a very long way. We were talking for a long time that this sector is not profitable. What are you thinking now? In 2009 is it a profitable sector or still not?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :What we can say is that it is a question of time, as it was the case for 2G GSM. The customer base was not developed in just one year. And it is the same with 3G. As we said previously, during this press launch, the reasonable progress of a 3G compared with a GSM is still stronger. And if we can force such a complex technology operators have to deploy, to make investments. It cannot be done in one day. So now we have the experience the return of experience showing that more and more customers in European operators or Asian operators more and more customers are using data applications, high speed mobile applications and services, and no more only the voice, SMS or even NMS applications. So it is progressively more and more data usage by the customers, which will make the operations profitable.
turk-internet.com : So you are thinking customers or users are really happy with 3G yes? Will we be happy in Turkey?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :I think more and more consumers are happy with 3G and particularly the step reached by 3G now with more speed, more comfort of use that enables the consumers to make more interesting applications to download music and video much quicker for instance and so on. Or to access Internet via mobile devices much quicker and more powerful than it was previously. So the answer is yes.
turk-internet.com : My last question. What about regulators? Are you happy with them? Even they are opening your ways? What is your real opinion?
Jean Pierre Bienaime :I think the regulators are really important. Regulators are important interrogators. And we try to form our own dialogue with them. The regulators of course determine the conditions they fix the landscape. The conditions the inspection of regulations, the prices of the licenses and so on. So they are important. And we try to advice for some spectrum choices and the way of communizing spectrum bands not opting one spectrum band to any technologies available in order to avoid interferences and to maximize the economies of scale for instance. And perhaps to put this balance between some government interests with high licensee’s prices and the interest of industry, which is to protect the sound business risks and not to becapadize by heavy initial down payments for instance. But I think we have good dialogues it depends here and there conditions are default. Here in Turkey it seems that with the presence of regulators today with some projects we hope that perhaps taxes on mobile will go down and..
We think it is in the ears of the regulators.
Turkish translation of this interview can be read by clicking here.