Sweden’s Ericsson was one of the first telecommunications equipment providers to enter Ukraine, opening an office in 1995. The move paid off as it turned into a core supplier to Ukrainian mobile network operators and Internet vendors.
Now, as Ukraine makes the transition to third generation Internet, Ericsson sees more opportunities.
“The real competition between Ukrainian operators will start soon, when all three operators launch 3G,” said Wojciech Bajda, the head of Ericsson Ukraine. “Competition for who is first, what tariffs they offer, what packages.”
Price flexibility should determine which mobile operator will get ahead in the race, Bajda said. Operators, in turn, will demand good quality 3G equipment during the transition process, an area in which Ericsson excels.
Wojciech Bajda, the head of Ericsson Ukraine, talks about opportunities in Ukraine at the company office on April 8. Photo credit: The Kyiv Post
Bajda, a Polish national, has for two years headed Ukraine’s Ericsson office where more than 150 are employed. He says Ukraine will be able to roll out 3G and get business and government to see its benefits much faster than Poland and other countries of Central and Western Europe did.
When 3G came into full commercial use in Poland 10 years ago, according to Bajda, it took several years to educate people about the opportunities that the technology provides and to supply the market with affordable yet compatible smartphones.
The conditions are better in Ukraine, Ericsson company research found. Internet penetration is growing, users are aware of many online services and more than 12 million Ukrainians already have smartphones compatible with 3G technology.
“Ukrainians with smartphones act the same way as consumers from European Union countries. The only difference is that you download data when you are connected to Wi-Fi,” Bajda says. “When 3G comes with reasonable pricing, Wi-Fi will be forgotten though. People will start using the speed and quality of mobile data.”
Mobile operators are supposed to introduce 3G in regional capitals within 18 months, according to licensing rules. Thus, Ericsson Ukraine hopes to expand on the local market and beat competitors Huawei, ZTE, Alcatel-Lucent andNokia Networks.
According to Bajda, the company has made many acquisitions in TV, media, online billing and sophisticated card-charging systems globally as a part of its strategy to address non-telecom customers.
Ukrainians “have very good skills in telecom engineering, system integration and software development especially,” Bajda says.
Ericsson has no research and development or production centers here. But it plans to establish a network operations center which will support all mobile and Internet networks through daily maintenance, checking alarms, connection and the state of equipment. This will improve the business operations of Ukrainian operators and let them concentrate on marketing and promotion, while network maintenance will be outsourced.
“When we facilitate development of mobile broadband, that creates job places, facilitates Ukraine’s gross domestic product and economy overall,” Bajda says. “As a Swedish company, we support Ukraine. We are ready to bring our technologies in order to lift you up to next level of telecommunications.”
This story is part of a joint series on international high tech business in Ukraine in partnership with The Kyiv Post.