interview with Vincent Charollais, CEO at DH Telecom a.s.

Vincent Charollais gives us some insides on how it is to launch a new telco product presents today an interview with Vincent Charollais, CEO at DH Telecom a.s. and in charge of the relaunch of it’s pre-paid service OpenCall Mobile. Being now for several years in the telecomunications business, Vincent Charollais gives us some insides on how it is to launch a new telco product and speaks with us about the future plans of OpenCall in the Czech Republic.

Vincent Charollais

You launched OpenCall on the Czech market in September. We understand, however, that OpenCall has already been operating here for some time.  Why, therefore, will there be a ‘new’ launch?

OpenCall was originally an independent MVNO on the U:FON network – actually it was one of the first MVNOs on the Czech Market. At that time, the GSM mobile communications market was closed in the Czech Republic and the only possible alternative was to use a CDMA Network in order to offer our services.

Today we speak about the "new" launch of OpenCall because we are now offering GSM services from the 2nd of September onwards, operating on the Vodafone Network.   This is a much bigger project, but we will be keeping to our original philosophy, which is to offer prepaid services with low cost national and international calls, and good customer care.  We believe that this makes our product an ideal solution for foreigners living in the Czech Republic, as well as for Czech peoples who need to be calling abroad. 

In the past, customers have had to sign detailed, long-term contracts with their mobile phone operators, and they have not always been happy about the service that they have received – but it is difficult to change.  How easy will it be for customers to purchase the OpenCall service and where will they be able to buy it?

Our services do not require any form of contract or registration. This gives an excellent accessibility for anybody that wants to use mobile phone services without the disadvantages of a contract or the overpriced rates offered with a prepaid card. Actually, and in many cases,

the rates are also more attractive than a lot of mobile contracts offered on the Czech market.

OpenCall SIM Cards will be available at several points of sale in the Czech Republic.  At the moment we are developing the network and we are updating this information on our website on a more or less daily basis.  It is already possible to order SIM cards online.

There have been several new mobile phone operators entering the market over the past year or so.  How will OpenCall differ from its competitors?

Today there is some quite aggressive competition on local calls, and we see this as a necessary adjustment when you compare rates here to those in other European countries.  At OpenCall, however, we are taking a special place on the mobile market in the Czech Republic, by offering very low-cost international rates, and we are already becoming a leader in this segment.    We are also able to deliver multilingual customer care and have high expectations in our level of customer satisfaction.   We believe that this also differentiates us from some of the other mobile operators.

You are planning to target the foreign community as one of your key customers.   Which particular parts of the foreign community and why do you plan to target them?

We estimate that there are up to 600,000 foreigners living in the Czech Republic. Of course, some of the communities, such as the Ukrainians and Vietnamese, by their sheer size, are key to us.  Nevertheless, we are interested in the whole foreign community and our website will be provided in six different languages (Czech, English, German, French, Russian and Vietnamese).

Our product is also excellent for the local Czech market as local calls, and calls within the network, are some of the most competitively priced on the Czech market.

Additionally, the Czech Republic has a central position in Europe, and a number of families have friends or family members studying or working abroad.  In fact, at the moment, 70% of the calls that we are receiving with requests for more information are from Czech people.

Most of the other mobile phone operators are owned by very big players.  OpenCall is owned by DH Telecom.  What is DH Telecom’s background?

DH Telecom Slovakia developed the first OpenCall MVNO on the U:FON network, and it has been providing comprehensive voice and data services since 2006, with company subsidiaries in Germany, USA, Hong-Kong and Singapore.

Having developed strong market know-how, DH Telecom decided to enter the Czech market in order to provide easy access to the MVNO emerging market, particularly for small and medium sized businesses.

What is your own background? 

I used to work as a project manager on international projects, mainly in the automotive and electronic industries. I came to Slovakia as a consultant for Peugeot-Citroen in 2008, and started to be involved on some other local projects. In 2010, I participated in the founding of OpenCall CDMA in the Czech Republic. I developed a large international network in the telecommunications sector and regularly meet with other international mobile operators, especially during the 3G/LTE summit that takes place every year in Hong Kong. It was important for me to develop a strong benchmark of Telco products and services and to work on a clear strategy.  Aside from OpenCall, we are also working on some new products in line with the latest M2M (Machine to Machine) innovations. We have already signed a framework agreement with QSC®-COSPACE, and from the beginning of October we will provide a unique cloud-based, multiplatform mobile application for OpenCall users and our wholesales partners.

How do you find setting up a very competitive brand on the mobile services market in the Czech Republic, compared to, say, doing the same things in France or elsewhere?

The opening up of the mobile Czech Network to the MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) is recent, and it gave a large space for new players. Those markets are already saturated in other European western countries. Nevertheless, we are in a paradoxical situation in the Czech Republic, with a new market opening with a strong demand on one side, but with multiple companies launching new virtual mobile services in the same period of time.  Although in competition with the other virtual mobile operators on the local market, however, by offering the best local rates, we are making a difference to everyone that wants to call abroad and have a better customer service experience.  That is what give us the possibility to be competitive and to become a leader on the market.

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