Olaf Swantee discusses his first year in charge of Switzerland’s Sunrise, including rebranding, launching quad-play and having the best mobile network
Eurocomms.com: You’ve been CEO of Sunrise for just over a year now. How would you sum up your time in charge so far?
Olaf Swantee: I can only call it The Unlimited Year! We started immediately with a slightly adapted, but fully operational management team, focussing on the strategic priorities network quality, customer service and innovation.
In October 2016 we won the “best digital TV” award and in November we won for the first time in the history of Sunrise the well-known and state-of-the art network test [held by German magazine] connect.
Our score was so high that connect had to set in place a new “outstanding” ranking.
In March this year we launched the first real unlimited quad-play offer as The Unlimited Company and lately we won the price for the best broadband customer hotline.
Commercially, we again outperformed the market; we accelerated customer momentum in mobile postpaid and reached double digit net adds in TV for the third quarter in a row.
Our converged product Sunrise ONE clearly supported this trend and we are more than satisfied with its performance so far.
All in all, it’s been a very busy and very successful year.
Despite gaining customers, mobile continues to be a problem from a revenue point of view. What are you doing differently to your predecessors to arrest this decline?
The slight mobile revenue decline in the second quarter was fully driven by the nationwide reduction in mobile termination rates, which has no impact on gross profit.
Adjusted for mobile termination rates, the mobile revenue returned to a slight growth.
This is the result of customer growth but also of value management.
On the flip side, internet and TV revenues recorded double-digit growth. What is your view on content – should telcos be looking to get into production or focus on being aggregators?
For Sunrise the most promising way is the role of an aggregator.
We focus on bringing the best content to our customers by partnerships, e.g. with Sky Sports and Teleclub, of course fully integrated in our offers.
Both Sunrise and Swisscom launched quad-play packages earlier this year. What are you doing to differentiate your offering from those of rivals?
I think the two propositions are difficult to compare.
Our Sunrise ONE product is a pure quad-play product that offers unlimited speed and data over landline and mobile connections - today and in the future without any extra costs.
So if there is a higher mobile or landline bandwidth available at customer’s home, they get it automatically without paying a higher fee or changing towards a more expensive subscription.
You can call it an attractively priced high-end product.
The proposition of our competitor is available across single, double, triple and quad-play and it is available from the low to the high end.
We actually launched a similar modular proposition with our Home and Freedom tariffs back in 2014.
We still have them in our offering today, and they complement Sunrise ONE.
As you mentioned, Sunrise has rebranded itself as The Unlimited Company. What does this mean and why have you chosen to go down this route?
Sunrise has already set new standards with its mobile network and we didn’t want to stop there.
We aim to provide the best geographic 4G coverage, both in Switzerland and compared with other 4G nations.
By the end of 2017, we will cover more than 92 percent of the country with 4G mobile broadband access.
This is the measure we will use to guarantee Switzerland a top spot in the global digital economy.
Digital broadband access should be available anywhere without any unnecessary limits.
Customers want unlimited, high-speed access to the Internet, at home and on the go.
This is why Sunrise is positioning itself as “The Unlimited Company” – together with the launch of Sunrise One.
By doing so, we are paving the way to the digital age for our customers and for Switzerland and we continue to remove more and more limits from our customers digital lives.
What’s the biggest challenge you face over the next 12 months?
In post-paid, Sunrise continued to take the lead in the Swiss market and of course, we are going to try to continue this trend.
The gross profit stabilization of Q2 is extremely encouraging and confirms our quality strategy of investing into network, customer interface, and innovation.
One of the biggest challenges ahead of us is the recurring connect test where the results will be known around November/December.
And, of course, to strengthen our position in the B2B market, in particular in the SME segment, is another key challenge.
The recently won BILANZ award – representing the largest independent customer survey in the Swiss telco market – says that Sunrise is the best full service provider for SME, so we are on a promising way.