How did the war affect the SMB sector of the telecommunications market in Ukraine?
The war has affected all sectors of the economy and business in Ukraine, and SMEs are certainly no exception. Some areas of business were less affected and were able to quickly reorganize work processes, given the current situation, but there are those that were forced to completely stop operations.
In March, many clients contacted us to put their services on pause, as there was a temporary suspension of business, and we met halfway. Some enterprises immediately relocated to the western regions of Ukraine. For the most part, these are IT and service areas that can quickly resume activities at a new address, and we proposed transferring the Internet service connection to other, safer regions.
Since April, there has been a gradual resumption of business activities (except for areas close to the collision line) and the resumption of the provision of telecommunications services - most often Internet services, since it was needed in the first place. From May, we began to observe a significant increase in telephony traffic and a gradual return to the levels that were in February. Now the situation in the SMB telecom sector is gradually improving, business is trying to adapt to work in the current difficult conditions and is starting to apply more actively to connect new services.
What services are currently the most popular among companies? What are customers interested in?
The most popular service now is providing access to the Internet. In addition, we note an increase in demand for cloud server services and other data center services, as well as for a virtual PBX, since this service allows you to connect company employees who are forced to work in different localities of the country, and sometimes even abroad. The need to protect business data and the stable operation of various resources has also increased due to the growth of cyber attacks, so we offer our subscribers DDoS protection for business as an additional service.
Clients are interested in the reliability and stability of the provision of services, the response time to service calls, the speed of restoring the optical network, given the frequent damage to lines during shelling.
An important aspect is the availability of qualified teams of engineers directly in the region where services are provided, despite the proximity of the city to active hostilities, since many providers do not have technical support at all at the place where the service is provided, if the problem needs to be solved with the departure of masters to the address. Technicians continue to work in our regular mode - for example, in front-line Kharkov, Zaporozhye and Nikolaev, where it is often necessary to restore damaged optical lines, which, of course, is our strong advantage compared to competitors.
Are you seeing a churn of customers due to the fighting, or, conversely, increased demand due to the exit of smaller players?
There is no single answer to this question, it all depends on the specific region. For example, in Nikolaev, in the SMB segment, we fix a temporary suspension of services, and in Lviv - growth for obvious reasons, since some enterprises have relocated to this city.
A decrease in the number of competitors in front-line cities does not lead to an increase in demand, since business has taken a position of waiting. But we expect that after the victory there will be a significant increase in demand for our services as a reliable telecom partner for business clients.
What is the most important thing in communication with SMB clients in such a difficult time?
Since the war has greatly affected the state of business and the expectations of businessmen about the prospects, it is quite important to keep in touch with customers, be sympathetic to the circumstances in which subscribers find themselves, and always try to find a common beneficial solution.
In general, clients react positively to communication with their managers in the company, they feel that we are working steadily and are a reliable partner for them.
How many clients ask to revise the terms of cooperation, do you meet them halfway?
In March, there were quite a lot of such clients, and, of course, we found a solution. So far, the situation has stabilized, and we are much less likely to receive requests to revise the terms of service from subscribers.
What competitive advantages does Datagroup-Volia have, what distinguishes you from your competitors?
The main thing that distinguishes us from competitors is the stability and reliability of services. Even in front-line cities, technicians are working to quickly restore services after communications damage. Our advantage is also the comprehensive provision of services for SMBs, because we can get high-speed Internet at speeds up to 1 Gbps, fixed telephony services, digital television, cloud solutions and services of our own data center.
By the way, there is a tendency to reduce the number of providers of not only Internet services, but also television services for business.
Recently it became known about the termination of licenses for all channels of the media group "Ukraine" and the termination of the service providers of the TV online media platform OLL.TV and the satellite provider XtraTV, which, of course, will affect the distribution of the television market in the business segment.
How did the shutdown of the OLL.TV platform affect the market? Have you felt the migration of its subscribers to you?
Yes, we are already registering an appeal, as business subscribers of the OLL.TV service are looking for similar solutions with a good choice of content for legal broadcasting. These are the solutions offered by Volia for business.
What are the specifics of servicing HoReCa enterprises, what changes are taking place now in this market?
If we take hotels, they, of course, need an individual approach, because there are a large number of TV screens and usually there is already a network, so they need the right technical solution, high-quality service and individual selection of the list of channels according to the format of the institution. We take all this into account when forming a commercial offer for connecting services and subsequent maintenance. We provide comprehensive solutions, including: high-speed Internet access, installation of Wi-Fi equipment, connection and configuration of a television service with rights for public display in a hotel, provision of telephony and data center services if necessary.
We offer professional solutions based on IP Multicast - technologies that are a centralized solution, a good and high-quality alternative to satellite TV, allowing you to receive channels with high image quality, integrate your own advertising channel into the hotel's television system, and optimize the amount of complex and expensive equipment.
For cafes, bars and restaurants we also offer internet and special TV packages for public viewing with the possibility to order additional sports content and choose the best technical solution. The connection technology based on our OTT platform through the VoliaTV software application is now popular, which allows you to quickly connect the service, do not install additional equipment for SmartTV and get the opportunity to select and, if necessary, change the content of the TV package.
Volia TV is one of the best platforms providing reliable access to top TV content from over 130 Ukrainian and top international TV channels. Here you will find live broadcasts of football matches of the Champions League, the Europa League, the Conference League, the championships of England, Spain, France, Germany, as well as an extensive filling of content on various topics: movies, music, news, entertainment and sports.
HoReCa clients at Volia receive quality services and a high level of service, we respond flexibly to their requests and offer changes to the content they receive to make the content relevant to changing format and business needs. Since the amount of content is now changing rapidly, we are quickly responding to all these changes by providing our subscribers with alternative channel replacements if a particular media group stops broadcasting, and accordingly form options for the client's choice. We have such opportunities because we have direct contracts with media groups and can independently form the content of our packages for business clients.
It should be noted that the number of OTT service providers in the television market in Ukraine is now decreasing, and in order not to suddenly lose access to the service, you need to choose a reliable partner. Volia has been on the market for more than 20 years and constantly invests in the development of digital television, its own OTT platform and filling it with high-quality content, which makes us a stable partner in providing TV services for businesses.
In what business direction does the company plan to develop after the victory?
We plan to further develop an integrated approach to the provision of telecommunications services so that our business clients can work comfortably, knowing that a reliable partner will take care of the quality provision of telecommunications solutions.
We expect that after the victory we will become even stronger and will reliably provide communications for the restoration of our country and the growth of small and medium-sized businesses, which are the driving force behind the Ukrainian economy.