EMT and Elion deleted

Kadri Hansalu
, business journalist
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Photo: Aivar Pau

Though the Swedish TeliaSonera owned telecommunications company Eesti Telekom since early 2010, now every client knows as well. The bells have tolled to the Estonian brands EMT and Elion, and starting today all services are offered by Telia Eesti. Brought in to lead the enterprise from January, Swede Dan Strömberg says this is a new beginning in lots of ways. 

-Great was the secrecy around your brand change. Why?

Because we wanted to surprise our clients. In addition to the brand change, we want to send a signal that we are taking a long step towards becoming a new generation IT and telecommunications company.

We did merge EMT and Elion a year and a half ago already, but now we are creating a truly unified enterprise. We are also launching two new services. Our aim is not merely to be leaders in client service, but also in innovation, quality and connectivity. We will combine the best parts of mobile and broadband network and will achieve use of our services with any technology. 

-Eesti Telekom and especially EMT were very well known Estonian brands. I think all still remember the legendary ladybug EMT logo. With Telia now the brand, it finally dawns on all that this is no longer an Estonian enterprise. Don’t you fear you will therewith lose the competitive edge?

I really do not think so. Firstly, the whole business is local and being present vital, but telecommunications business is indeed international by nature and when we belong to the TeliaSonera group, why would we hide that?

Now that TeliaSonera has altered its strategy slightly and exited Eurasia, the focus is much stronger on Scandinavia and the Baltics. So we can do more to harmonise what we are doing in Estonia and the TeliaSonera group. For instance, as a country and as a TeliaSonera enterprise, Estonia is way ahead of others when it comes to development of e-society. So we can import several new services from here to TeliaSonera and by that provide the Estonian innovation with new dimensions altogether.

-Why did you end up opting for Telia as the brand?

It has actually been quite a lengthy process which started before I ever arrived. The previous management was assessing various names and options, it went on for almost a year. Finally, we settled for Telia as this is already used in Sweden and Denmark, and is easy to pronounce and use. It also speaks to clients that he can use our services all over Nordics. 

-You mentioned there were a couple of new services launched with the new name. What are these?

Firstly, we will be offering a new mobile data communication roaming service meaning that when you are in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania, Finland or Latvia, you pay nothing extra for roaming. So you pay as much as you would in Estonia. I think this is mega win for the clients. With that, we actually do away with national borders. And it will not raise data communication fees in Estonia.

By that we hope to deliver people from uncertainty while using our services abroad, and we naturally hope that therefore the use of our services will increase. Currently, people often go as far as to totally switch their mobile phones off while abroad, fearing an enormous bill. We are only able to provide this update thanks to having our own network in all these countries. This is an advantage of belonging to a large group. The service was first introduced on Swedish market mid-December last year and we believe this is what the future will be like. For a long time, roaming has been a bottleneck, and has damaged the reputation of telecoms.

-And the second one?

We will be offering home internet and our TV package MinuTV to all users irrespective of technology i.e. even in regions where we have no cable. Like in summer houses or faraway places where we have low quality. Now we can offer the clients there the same quality for same price as with the cable. So that our services may be used irrespective of the network or technology, as we are able to use mobile network together with broadband network. And naturally, likewise, they will also gain access to high speed unrestricted internet.

And that’s for a fixed sum – €5 for TV and €16 or €21 for internet (the latter included TV). These are the same prices as with cable. Now we can offer our services to all the 150,000 households to whom we earlier had to say «no» regarding our services. Personally I have a summer home in Sweden in a place where television does not reach and for me this is a great problem as in the previous summer home we were accustomed to having TV. Estonia is the first country where we are doing this and I believe that we are indeed supposed to be leaders in launching new services.

-What are the greatest challenges to be tackled by telecom business near term?

The speed. This is a business of change and speed where nothing can be taken for granted. We need to be ahead of the changes and make sure we are fast enough to compete both with the traditional doers and the newcomers. I think it is not that the big eats the small, but the fast eats the slow.

Also, we need to always offer services which give added value to our clients. A change as such creates no value, but if you are able to change and thereby to offer value for clients, that is vital. 

-But still: why did TeliaSonera bring you in as new chief of the Estonian unit though it was being stated all was very well over here?

I have been working abroad since 2009 and it was my desire to remain in the Baltics as so much is happening here, with Estonia naturally the bright star. Though small, services with international reputation have been developed here.

When talking about e-society in Europe, they are not talking about Germany or France, but about Estonia. I think it is rather logical that when there has been the same head for very many years, it is good at times to change that. I highly esteem what Valdo (Kalm – edit) has done here but from time to time it is good to change something as this injects new energy into the organisation, and other ideas. So that’s why I was brought here.

Let’s say it is my task to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and do a little restart in the company, so we can develop as a unified company.

-Recently, you have moved a lot from one country to another. How long are you intending to stay in Estonia?  

I will stay as long as we have become a true new generation enterprise. Whether that will take 2,5 or 3,5 years, makes no difference. Meanwhile, I think it good that I do not have to protect anything. I will surely leave sooner or later, but for now I am dedicated to being here as proven by having my family here with me.

-So no plans to be here for 20 years like Valdo Kalm?

(Laughs.) No, I can promise you that. But for now, I am focussed on doing a good job here with the team. Thus far I am amazed at what I have seen here. I really do think that Valdo did an excellent job. My task is to take it from excellent to great. This is not like the situation in Lithuania or Latvia where we had great difficulties before my coming.