Telekom Srbija, which offers services under the MTS brand, is planning to continue acquiring smaller cable-based rivals to strengthen its multi-play and converged service offerings and stave off competition, the group’s head of internet and multimedia, Vladimir Lucic, said in an interview with Politika. The official claimed that there were around 90 cablecos that had arranged into a de facto coalition against MTS, arguing that they competed only with the state-owned incumbent and not each other. Mr Lucic explained that nearly a third of households served by MTS had the option to take services from a cableco instead, and that the multimedia-oriented packages from these players are gradually eroding the telco’s subscriber base. In addition, Mr Lucic claimed that the cableco ‘coalition’ had secured exclusive access to content from distributors such as Fox, strengthening their own positions whilst undermining MTS’s capacity to compete. The growing popularity of multi-service plans, meanwhile has added to the pressure from its cableco rivals; the official suggested that users were drawn to cable TV packages by the channels and content on offer but would also migrate their fixed telephony and broadband services to the cablecos for convenience.
To counteract the drift, the group is looking to follow up its recent acquisition of cableco Kopernikus with more takeovers, alongside network improvement projects – the operator is working on the deployment of fibre-optic infrastructure and has lined up annual investment of EUR200 million (USD226.9 million) for such programmes – and upgrades to its content offerings; Mr Lucic noted that a new satellite TV offering is due to be made available across all the countries in which it operates from 15 December. Elsewhere, MTS is also looking to expand its international footprint, with plans to expand within the western Balkans but also to serve the Serbian diaspora. The company already operates as an MVNO in Austria, and has set its sights on introducing virtual services in Germany, Switzerland, the US and Canada.