Neocleous: What is leading to an inevitable rise in Cyprus telecom prices

For telecommunications companies, the most basic wager remains the speed with which they respond to the ever-increasing communication needs of citizens, public services and businesses of all sizes, says the CEO of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta,) Andreas Neocleous.

In an interview with InBusinessNews, in the context of "IN Business Forecasting 2024," Neocleous notes that given the dramatic geopolitical developments, the need for increased cyber security exponentially increases the required flow of investments and their importance to ensure the resilience and reliability of telecommunication infrastructures. In this context, he indicates that recently, perhaps for the first time in the telecommunications sector, a tendency to increase prices has been recorded in the majority of European countries, something that in Cyprus, as he notes, we have managed to avoid until now.

"However", he warns, "if the demands for increased investment needs in new technologies, new resources and new services continue, the rise in the prices of services to consumers and businesses will be inevitable."

Referring to Cyta and its plans for 2024, Andreas Neocleous underlines that, among other things, they include the expansion of Cyta Fiber to large rural communities, the improvement of the mobile network coverage in indoor areas with the application of new technologies, the evolution of Cytavision into a modern digital platform, further expansions in the interconnection of Cyprus with the rest of the world and the creation of a green, state-of-the-art data centre.

"Our economy is fragile"

What do you consider to be the biggest and most difficult challenges that the Cypriot economy will have to face?

We live in the era of "permacrisis", where one crisis follows another. Cyprus is at a critical crossroads: On the one hand it must direct its economic development in an environmentally conscious direction and on the other hand it must build resilience and adaptability.

So, the country has before it a mixture of challenges, and ones that are particularly explosive. An integrated strategy that addresses economic, social and environmental aspects equally is a recipe for long-term stability. This, quite simply, could mean state-of-the-art infrastructure everywhere, digital public services and of course, green energy.

At the same time, we also have macroeconomic challenges. Our economy is vulnerable, mainly due to the inability to inflow income from productive investments and the country's high dependence on oil imports.

Add to the equation the urgent need to strengthen the National Health System, coupled with the shortage of highly skilled skills and the digital illiteracy of the workforce, and you realize that we have a ticking time bomb on our hands.

The process of containing public finances and dealing with the high debt of households is required and to a large extent is already being done. What cannot be done and needs to be done today and not tomorrow, is the systematic correction of the inefficiency of public administration.

Would you say that taking into account the latest upgrades, the economy is now well on its way to growth?

It depends on which countries we compare it to and where we want to go. After all, the examples of growth concern the banking indices and the reduction of public debt. For anyone reading behind the lines, even if they compare favourably with Europe, at this juncture the economic indicators do not say much. Because economic development needs not only speed but also direction.

Prosperity, yes, requires economic growth, but at the same time it should provide society as a whole with easy access to a range of necessary goods, such as essential public services, quality health care, modern education and entertainment.

The State, rightly, says that the answer to the challenges lies in the Recovery and Resilience Plan, combined with strategic investments in the green and digital transition and in the modernisation of the productive sectors of the economy, such as tourism.

However, the frequent wrong choice connected to the projects for which we receive funding, as well as the constant tortoise-like rhythms we maintain in the implementation of the relevant projects, leave Cyprus stuck at the bottom of Europe.

Developments have overtaken us and the automated services that will facilitate the citizen, are stuck in a permanent planning phase.

Need for increased cyber security

What do you think will be the course of the sector in which you operate in 2024?

Constant crises require adaptability and recognition of the opportunities that are created, at the same time that traditional habits and everyday life change. The impact of these changes is low customer loyalty and the inability of businesses to stay relevant with developments and with their customers.

For telecommunications companies, the most important wager remains the speed with which we respond to the ever-increasing communication needs of citizens, public services and businesses of all sizes.

At the same time, the ability of telecommunications companies to make necessary investments is becoming increasingly difficult. Given the dramatic geopolitical developments, the need for increased cyber security exponentially increases the required flow of investments and their importance to ensure the resilience and reliability of telecommunications infrastructures.

We have recently seen, perhaps for the first time in telecommunications, a tendency to increase prices in the majority of European countries, something that in Cyprus we have so far managed to avoid.

But if the demands for increased investment in new technologies, new resources and new services continue, rising prices of services to consumers and businesses will be inevitable.

We are building the foundations for tomorrow

What are your organisation's plans/strategy for 2024? Should we expect new products/services/developments and your further establishment in the market? Will it be a year of growth/expansion or maintaining your existing market position? Can you tell us about any of your plans in particular?

There are two main ways to get down the field: Either you play defence to limit turnovers, or you go on the attack to create opportunities to develop.

At Cyta we constantly look ahead and consistently follow the second path. Continuing the positive course of recent years, we are building the foundations for tomorrow, with self-confidence, optimism, dynamism and extroversion.

This includes introducing new services that seamlessly connect the physical and digital worlds.

As our customers have become used to, we introduce proven technology for innovative services that go beyond the traditional boundaries of simple connectivity and take charge of the complete customer experience. A 360° experience that can be enjoyed wherever the customer is, simply, easily and safely.

Among other things, our plans for 2024 include extending Cyta Fiber to large rural communities, improving indoor mobile network coverage by implementing new technologies, evolving Cytavision into a modern digital platform, further expansions in the interconnection of Cyprus with the rest of the world and the creation of a green, state-of-the-art data centre.

Implementing mature artificial intelligence solutions

What role does technology, such as artificial intelligence, play and what changes is it expected to bring about in your field?

Telecommunications is technology. The more technology we assimilate and integrate into our operations and services, the more innovative and competitive we become. For Cyta, the wager is to integrate technological developments quickly, keeping seamless customer service at the centre, thus ensuring their loyalty and commitment.

Artificial intelligence, like any change, brings with it significant benefits as well as challenges. This particular technology also brings increased social concern. My view is that in telecommunications at least, we need to implement mature AI solutions that have been proven in other markets and have a clear benefit for all involved.

By no means am I in favor of putting artificial intelligence unchecked into our networks and services simply because trends dictate it. We need to stay focused on our strategy:

We improve our customer's daily life and make their life easier. If artificial intelligence achieves these goals, then not only we, but also the customer himself will appreciate its value.

(Source: InBusinessNews)

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