George Zhemberi, CEO of Volia – Ukraine’s leading cableco by subscribers, revenue and coverage – has outlined the company’s current strategy focus in an interview with local newspaper Delo. Commenting on general growth targets he said that Volia’s subscriber market share is stable in the capital Kiev but growing in other regions due to the continuous expansion of its HFC cable network. Volia’s cable broadband internet service is now available in 28 cities – almost all of its 29-city cable TV footprint – and on a nationwide level Zhemberi claims to have achieved a 21% pay-TV subscriber market share and an 8% broadband internet subscriber market share, while in Kiev Volia boasts market shares of ‘60% and 28%’ for TV and broadband users respectively, according to the executive.
Zhemberi stated that Volia’s top priority is improving services for current users, including the necessary upgrade of internet services in some cities including Zaporizhia, Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk. Secondly, he said the cableco’s strategy focuses on leading innovation in the Ukrainian market, announcing that the response to its interactive TV service – Volia Smart HD, introduced in March but given a full launch in May – has ‘exceeded expectations’, with at least 50,000 users expected by the end of the year. Smart HD includes interactive features such as catch-up, restart and a multi-screen option, while the set-top box is also sold to customers outside the Volia network to third-party internet subscribers who receive over-the-top (OTT) content. The CEO also flagged up a new product range being launched this month by Volia for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), created in collaboration with partners including Cisco and VMware, adding that until the end of last year Volia was only present in the B2B segment in Kiev, but is now investing in a new data centre and is already active in the segment in ‘68 other cities’.
The third main strategic area of importance is the expansion of Volia’s networks, Zhemberi stated. While continuing to see opportunities for further consolidation of smaller cable rivals – and indeed has several specific targets at the moment – the operator also intends to expand its network organically in the cities it has entered recently. Volia recently completed integrating the acquired networks of ODEKO in several cities in the west of the country which it purchased last year. Zhemberi also noted the advantage that Volia enjoys by operating a national telecoms transport network independent of the nationwide incumbent telco Ukrtelecom.