Turks love mobile data services - at least until it's time to pay
for them - is the message being sent out by Turkcell's chief
business development officer, Cenk Serdar. Serdar reckons the
Turkish market is a zero-to-one game and says that for most
services, with the notable exception of football goal video clips,
if you charge one dollar, you'll attract zero customers. He speaks
from experience having attracted 1.1million users to the carrier's
Windows Live Messenger mobile offering in fewer than three months,
that's almost one third of Turkcell's subscriber base. However,
monetising the service proved impossible and subscriber numbers
shrank to just 25,000 overnight when a US$3 per month charge was
"It's very hard to get wallet share from customers," admits Serdar.
"Turkey is a large country but the GDP isn't high so users are very
open to free offers and incentives."
Turkcell has had to box clever but many of the announcements made by
the vendor community regarding mobile services in the last five
years are coming to fruition in Turkey. From live, location-based
traffic info to mobile signatures, Turkcell boasts millions of users
and, although their hands remain firmly in their pockets when it
comes to signing up for subscriptions, the carrier has found ways to
monetise many of its services. It's Tone and Win ringback tone
service, for example, gives users the opportunity to win prizes by
allowing advertising to run as their ringback tone and big brands
have brought into the concept.
"The advertising model has created the means for mobile operators to
make money," adds Serdar. "I think services like Tone and Win are
going to fly. We currently have 250,000 subscribers and it's at that
level because we want to limit it to 250,000 while we make sure
we've got it right and the offering isn't over-intrusive. We don't
want it to die before it flies so we're being careful but by the end
of this year, we'll have one or two million users depending on how
widely we make it available."
Serdar is excited by using advertising as a means to monetize and
thinks Turkey represents and excellent early adopter market, in part
as a consequence of its low ADSL penetration of 33% and low GDP. "We
have 20 different advertising-funded products already," he says.
"That's probably the largest portfolio in the world after NTT DoCoMo."
George Malim, 18 February, 2009
Mobile World Congresss
Turkcell outlines 3G expectations
License bid process will mean no rollout till mid 2009
Turkcell will not start investment in its 3G network until it has
gone fully through the license approvals process, according to Koray
Öztürkler, the Turkish operator’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer.
With the tender process now scheduled to begin on 28th November, and
a judicial approvals process that can take up to 90 days, that means
that investment in the network will not be begin until well into
The operator will not divulge its investment plans for 3G rollout
until the 6th November, the day after its Q3 results announcement.
Its license commitment will be to cover 50% of the country by
population within three years. Öztürkler said that the operator can
achieve more than this by covering Turkey’s eight largest cities.
The operator will jump straight to HSPA coverage, he said, offering
a broadband alternative to fixed line services.
Turkcell bid last year for a license, only to see it withdrawn as it
was the only bidder. Vodafone and Avea refused to take part in the
bidding process until Mobile Number Portability was enabled.
Last year the company bid €511 million, including tax, for the
license. There are four types of license available, offering 40, 35,
30 and 25MHz of spectrum in each license respectively. With the A
license (40MHz) this year set at a reserve of €285 million, the
operator does not expect to be paying above its previous bid this
But Öztürkler said that the company had benefited in one way from
the delay, as it was able to benefit from reduced infrastructure
costs, as well as improved interoperability.
“There are some significant technical improvements and we have been
able to move away from a single vendor model. This year we made the
choice to replace our single vendor supplier, Ericsson, with Huawei,
especially in the North of the country and he Black Sea region,” he
In a wide ranging interview, Öztürkler covered several other areas.
On Number portability:
Turkcell will use the introduction of mobile number portability to
its advantage, Öztürkler said, and will aim to use its band power
and marketing presence to lever customers away from Turkey’s other
two operators. The company held a MNP day internally to make sure
its employees understood the ethics around MNP.
On the Competitive situation:
“I don’t believe Vodafone has any advantage in its technology,
service offerings or speed of infrastructure investment. Two months
ago, Vodafone said it would bring the iPhone to Turkey. At that
point Turkcell was not involved in a contact with Apple, but we
talked to them, and Apple realised they could not overlook Turkcell.
We explained our strength, and made and agreement for the iPhone.
Now you will find it difficult to find an iPhone in one of our
stores, because they have proved so popular. This is not a situation
you will find with our competitors. Operators can’t differentiate
around the iPhone, but we can differentiate around our brand, our
marketing power and our PR power. In ten days we sold 15,000 iPhones,
and that was in a holiday week.”
On Macro Economic Conditions:
Turkcell has $3 billion net cash resources, making it unusual in
having no debt, beyond $600 million consolidated debt from its
subsidiary businesses. Only Zain, of its like for like rivals, is
not in a negative cash position. It means the company can finance
mergers and acquisitions going forward. It is to be hoped the
current market conditions don't reach down to the street, but
Turkcell is well placed if there is a consumer slowdown.
On the BeST acquisition:
The company will import the Life brand from Ukraine, where it has
had great success. Earnings per capita are higher in Belarus than in
Ukraine, so there is potential for ARPU growth. The investment
required will not be in the multi-billion dollar realm. At purchase,
€500 million was floated as a number over ten years to meet its
On regulation and government:
Parliament is soon to approve a law allowing Turkish companies to
buy back their own shares, which could be an attractive investment
option for the operator.
The operator is also lobbying for Turkey’s punitive value added
sales tax laws to be reformed. Consumers pay 42% tax on value added
services items, with operators paying another 15% tax. At the very
least the operator wants the tax regime brought level with the fixed
operators. It wants Government to understand that if taxes are
brought down, not only will it stimulate usage, increasing the
overall take, but is more likely to result in less tax avoidance.
Mobile Europe, 22 October 2008
Turkcell, the provider of mobile communications in Turkey, has
announced that it signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement to acquire a
80% stake in Belarusian Telecommunications Network (BeST). The
completion of the transaction will be subject to the fulfillment of
the conditions set forth in the SPA.
The stake will be acquired from the State Committee on Property of
the Republic of Belarus for a consideration of US$500 million. The
payment is expected to be realized in 3 tranches of which US$300
million is expected to be paid on the closing date, which is
expected to be 30 days after the signature date and additional
US$100 million tranches are expected to be paid on December 31, 2009
and 2010 respectively. An additional payment of US$100 million shall
be made when BeST records a full-year positive net income for the
Turkcell CEO Sureyya Ciliv commented: "The acquisition of BeST
represents an opportunity for Turkcell to gain access to a market
with a growth potential. Belarus is an attractive emerging market
within Turkcell's growth geography with its young and well educated
population and steadily growing economy. We are also happy to be
starting our operations with an already established third operator
in Belarus. We believe we can use our complimentary skills we gained
in Ukraine and CIS very effectively in Belarus to differentiate BeST
as soon as possible.
Mobile Europe, 30 July 2008
NeuStar has announced that it has partnered with Turkcell, the third
largest mobile network operator in Europe, to launch the Windows
Live Messenger mobile instant messaging (IM) service to Turkcell's
35.1 million mobile subscribers.
A longtime NeuStar customer, Turkcell is now using NeuStar's
powerful Mobile Messaging Gateway (MMG) solution to bring Windows
Live Messenger to its subscribers. Turkcell has been and will
continue to offer its own-community mobile IM service (Turkcell
Messenger), which is powered by NeuStar's Instant Messaging Service
With a simple login function and instant access to their buddy lists
and presence information, Turkcell subscribers will be able to
experience all the functionality of Windows Live Messenger on their
mobile phones. The same familiar experience is available whether
they are sitting at a PC or using their mobiles.
Burak Ertas, head of the Consumer Services Division at Turkcell,
said: "At Turkcell, we like to bring the widest choice of services
to our subscribers. Our business relationship with NeuStar has
enabled us to offer two complementary mobile IM services. NeuStar
built a close working relationship with our team from day one, and
that has helped to shape our service. We are delighted to have
partnered with NeuStar again to launch Windows Live Messenger, which
gives our users further mobile IM choices."
Allen Scott, general manager of NeuStar NGM, added: "Turkcell's
customers have roundly embraced the new opportunities for
communication that IM brings to the mobile phone. Having worked on
the original Turkcell Messenger service, NeuStar is pleased to have
been responsible for the deployment of Windows Live Messenger,
giving Turkcell's subscribers further choice. As Turkcell
strengthens its position as Turkey's leading mobile communications
provider and continues to innovate in this field, we have no doubts
that mobile IM will prove to be increasingly important for them."
Bubble Motion, a specialist in 'voice SMS', has announced an
agreement with Turkcell, the mobile communications provider in
Turkey, to launch its voice SMS service, KonusGonder.
The partnership means that all Turkcell subscribers will be able to
record and send short voice messages to their friends, families or
business contacts, in a similar manner to sending text messages.
BubbleTALK is said to offer a more instantaneous, personal and
language-agnostic alternative to text messaging, mobile email, and
traditional mobile voice calling.
Turkcell plans to use the KonusGonder service to provide an
innovative and unique Value-Added Service to its subscribers. The
introduction of the BubbleTALK service is claimed to have been
attractive to mobile operators because of its simple,
revenue-generating service which eliminates the need for any
additional network infrastructure.
"Turkey is a large, rapidly-growing market, so working with Turkcell,
one of the most progressive and well-respected operators in the
region, is an important step in establishing our market leadership,
as we have in other regions," stated Bill Crawley, Vice President,
Sales at Bubble Motion.
Cenk Serdar, Chief of Value Added Services at Turkcell, commented: "Turkcell
is one of the most innovative operators in the world and has always
recognized the benefit in working with innovative partners. With
Bubble Motion we have been able to jointly bring voice SMS to the
Turkish market in a very short timeframe. Our customers love to talk
and love to send messages, so voice SMS is the perfect complementary
product to sit alongside our very popular text SMS service. Early
indications and user testing show that voice SMS will be very
popular in Turkey and will be a real hit with our customers."
Thomas Clayton, CEO & President of Bubble Motion commented: "We are
excited to announce this deal with Turkcell, and begin our
aggressive expansion into Europe. This is the latest in a series of
partnerships for us, helping operators differentiate their offerings
with a unique, popular service and enabling consumers to communicate
more efficiently and impactfully while they are mobile."
13 May, 2008
The Turkish Telecommunications Authority has revoked the 3G license
granted to Turkcell, after three other licenses remained unbid for
following the closure of the tender period on 7 September.
Turkcell offered US$511 million for a Type A Third Generation
license and pledged payment in advance. The remaining licenses were
not issued due to the absence of any other participants in the
Sureyya Ciliv, Turkcell's CEO, said: "We are disappointed that the
license was cancelled and hope the Turkish Telecommunications
Authority determines to reschedule the 3G license tender at the
"By delaying Turkey's capacity to use this advanced technology, the
decision to cancel the 3G license risks depriving the country of a
key technological competitive advantage. Turkcell has been preparing
for three years to offer 3G technology to our people and our
customers, and will continue to take the lead in our investment in
the future of Turkey. "
21 September, 2007
Turkcell, said to be the leading GSM operator in Turkey and the
third largest in Europe, will now offer its subscribers Google
search to help them find information on the internet while they are
on the move.
Google search will appear on the home page of Turkcell's turkcell‑im,
enabling Turkcell subscribers to easily search the internet at no
extra cost above their existing data charges.
12 July, 2007