Speaking to Hilton Tarrant from Moneyweb, Crozier said that creating more mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are important for South Africa to increase competition and drive down prices.
Tarrant’s interview with Crozier in this issue is provided below. The full interview is available here.
HILTON TARRANT: Sébastien Crozier is head of Orange Horizons, a unit of French operator, Orange Telecom. Sébastien, in the country for the MVNO Industry Summit, which took place in Cape Town last week, not many people know that Orange is active in the country and active in this market, where is Orange active?
SÉBASTIEN CROZIER: We have many activities, for example Orange Business Services for the * market, we have many customers like Total but also *, Anglo American. We manage the networks for the international airports all over the world and especially in South Africa also. We have a boat to settle * cable and the boat is at the moment in the harbour of Cape Town. Also we have another subsidiary dedicated to transmission through satellites for TV channels, GlobeCast. So we are very involved in South Africa with many different activities and now we have launched Orange Horizons more dedicated to the B2C market.
HILTON TARRANT: So this specifically focused in the retail environment and the consumer environment?
SÉBASTIEN CROZIER: Yes, focused on the end customer through retail, online store but also Wi-Fi network selling products from Orange countries when you want to travel in physical retailers. Also we could become MVNO if the regulation was good enough.
HILTON TARRANT: With the potential entry as an MVNO in this market is it purely a regulatory obstacle at this point?
SÉBASTIEN CROZIER: Absolutely, we think that the regulation does not exist for the MVNO market, in many countries all over the world there is a regulation for the MVNOs and that’s not the case in South Africa. We think that having an MVNO market is interesting for a country because it increases the competition and just for an example the roaming price when you want to travel is absolutely amazing, all the local players, the local MVNO, charge you such a large amount, it’s incredible.
HILTON TARRANT: As far as an MVNO entry goes are you active in other countries as an MVNO?
SÉBASTIEN CROZIER: Yes, we are an MNO in 32 or 33 countries but also in many countries we are MVNO so we know perfectly both sides of the market. This is the reason why we are interested in becoming MVNO in South Africa, we think South Africa is a very important market and also a very interesting market.
HILTON TARRANT: How would you describe this market as you see it, obviously two very large operators, one or two challenger operators, from a regulatory point of view, from a competition point of view?
SÉBASTIEN CROZIER: There is not enough competition because having only two major players proves that there is not enough competition. You need to have three or four players and also many small players MVNO targeting niche segments. So this is the reason why we ask the regulation authority to be more involved in the MVNO market because we think that there is a lot of things to do, innovation is always brought by competition and we think that it’s important for the market to be more challenging.
HILTON TARRANT: Why the MVNO route? Why not a straight forward acquisition of one of the existing operators?
SÉBASTIEN CROZIER: It’s a good question, of course sometimes in some countries we’re interested in buying some players but at the moment we think that it’s not interesting for us to buy anybody in South Africa. Perhaps some player could be interested in selling their activities but at the moment we’d prefer to enter into the market step by step. It’s quite unusual for Orange to settle in a country without being and MNO but we think it’s a long-term strategy more interesting because we learn a lot about the market, so if we have to become an MNO we could also become an MNO through having frequencies, not only through buying players.
HILTON TARRANT: Have you had any positive feedback from the regulator?
SÉBASTIEN CROZIER: We have good discussion with the regulator but we still ask for having an MVNO regulation to be able to launch MVNOs, especially ours.