Interview: K. Gökhan Bozkurt

How much new cable is being installed to extend the fibre-optic network nationwide, and what is the timeline for the project?

K GOKHAN BOZKURT: Our aim is to reach every corner of the country and provide all citizens with access to the fibre-optic network. With this vision in mind, we invest in all of Turkey’s 81 cities. We constantly renew our infrastructure, both in big cities and in small towns, to provide access for more customers to high-quality, high-speed internet services. Over the course of the past six years, Türk Telekom has increased the total length of the fibre-optic network to 150,600 km, and with the acquisition of Pantel (an independent wholesale data and capacity provider in Central and South-eastern Europe), the network traverses Turkey’s national boundaries for the first time and spans some 177,600 km. In 2011 our fibre-optic network grew by 9 km per hour, providing fibre-optic service to an additional 520 households every 60 minutes. Currently, there are approximately 1m home-pass and ADSL customers that have fibre-service access, either through fibre-to-the-box or fibre-to-the-building installations, at no additional charge. By the end of 2012 we intend to reach approximately 3m households with the fibre-optic network.

Are there plans to seek international fibre-optic network connections to the east?

BOZKURT: Turkey’s unique geographic location allows us to cover a vast area from Europe to the Middle East, to become both a bridge and a centre for communications infrastructure. In 2010 we began to realise this opportunity through the acquisition of Pantel, which brought Türk Telekom a 27,000 km-long fibre-optic network and enabled the firm to become a truly international provider. The realisation of the Jeddah-Amman-Damascus-Istanbul (JADI) Link project, which aims to establish a colossal integrated multi-pass fibre-optic network encompassing the Middle East, Southern Europe and East Asia, will position Turkey as a key transit country for telecommunications infrastructure, as well as a centre. We like to call it “the digital Silk Road”. With the JADI Link project, the communications infrastructure of the participating countries is used over a single line. These developments are both pivotal in Turkey’s role as a bridge between the Middle East and Europe for voice and data transmission.

What can fixed-line providers do to compete with the growing ubiquity of mobile?

BOZKURT: We believe that the global telecommunications sector is focusing on delivering voice, data and visual services over a single platform, and we have built our long-term vision upon the convergence of these services. This transition in the market is now guiding the way that we manage all of our transformation processes. To provide this array of services, we make no distinction between fixed-line or mobile platforms, and are instead focusing on the added value that can be created by fixed-line infrastructure to support user behaviour. This enables customers to benefit from communications services over the platform of their choice, without causing any change in their individual experiences.

In what ways has privatisation influenced Türk Telekom’s long-term business strategy?

BOZKURT: Türk Telekom’s structural transformation has been going on since it underwent privatisation in 2005. A change of this nature affects every part of the company, from the business models, to the repositioning of products and services, to a more competitive customer-focused approach. This has required investment in human resources, technology and infrastructure. However, it has also resulted in a shift towards higher speed and capacity in data provision, the expansion of the fixed network internationally and fibre-optic upgrades to the network.