GO’s 5G mobile roll-out – an investment exceeding €16 million

NIKHIL PATIL, CEO of GO

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April, 2022 at 9:31 am by Andre Camilleri

2021 was the second year of a global pandemic that significantly impacted our economic and social fabric. “History has shown us that in times of crisis, connectivity is the lifeline that keeps businesses and people connected. GO never shied away from a challenge and our 2021 performance shows this,” says NIKHIL PATIL, CEO of GO.

You described the recently announced financial results as remarkable especially given the current market pressures. What were the main factors for this?

Our performance is the result of staying true to our purpose to drive a digital Malta where no one is left behind. Aligning the whole company toward this, staying focused on the end goal, making sure we invest in the best technology, translating this to the best possible customer experience and driving efficiency across the organisation were the main factors for this positive performance.

What were GO’s more salient achievements in its financial performance?

The Group generated revenue of €193.7m, an increase of 4.6% over the previous year. Local telecoms revenue increased, mainly driven by subscriber gains in both fixed broadband and mobile. The year was also positive for our operating subsidiaries, where BMITT’s total revenues increased by 5.5% to reach €25.3m and Cablenet’s total revenue reached an all-time high of €53.5m, an increase of 14% over 2020. Group Profit for The Year amounted to €10.4m, a reduction of €3.6m compared to the prior year. Essentially this reduction is mainly the result of an exceptional one-time gain on the disposal of an investment made during 2020. As we remain focused on investing for the long term, we also want to keep providing healthy returns to our shareholders. Total dividends for financial year 2021 will be of €0.16 per share.

How is GO responding to the persisting pandemic and the international economic and political climate as the sources of inflation and operational complexity?

From a financial perspective, throughout 2021, we kept tight cost discipline and took various measures to limit the impact of this cost inflation. This enabled us to continue offering cutting-edge products and the best possible service to our loyal customers, in a sustainable fashion, while safeguarding profitability and shareholder returns.

The past year seems to have been a year of solid investment for GO. Can you please take us through some of the most important investments undertaken?

Our biggest current investment remains our roll-out of a nationwide True Fibre network, which will deliver the fastest broadband speeds. We aim complete roll-out in the next four years. In 2021, we piloted a new, faster, more efficient and environmentally friendly roll-out leading to a record 32,000 homes supplied with True Fibre. Nationwide coverage now is up to 52%. Without our TrueFibre network, we would not have been able to embark on our 5G mobile roll-out, another investment exceeding €16m. Last year we also invested heavily in our international connectivity, which is critical for the country’s connectivity and competitiveness; an investment of €25m in a third submarine cable connecting Malta to France, Egypt and beyond. We also invested in Internet of Things (IoT), launching our first IoT product in the form of an Asset Tracking solution.

Where is GO at with regards to the rollout of 5G?

Thanks to our teams’ tireless work, the first milestone happened in December 2021 with the setting up of the first 5G mobile sites, a natural step forward in ensuring that we keep on enabling peoples’ lives and businesses through the latest technologies.

GO also seems to be making inroads when it comes to the start-up sector…

Investing in a digital Malta also means investing in local start-ups in the fields of AI, big data and analytics, blockchain, cybersecurity, fintech and IoT. Our most recent investment was in green tech company SENS which marries IoT with green technology to save energy consumption for our commercial customers (hotels, office buildings, etc.). Through our investment arm, GO Ventures launched in 2019, we have invested over €1m in local and foreign start-ups who now use digital means to innovate and disrupt the markets. Our investment goes beyond financial. We have invested time, resources and expertise.

As a people organisation, how has GO approached the reality of the pandemic?

The pandemic challenged us physically, psychologically and emotionally, and unless we nurture our own people, we can never serve our customers brilliantly. To safeguard our people’s well-being, we found alternative ways of staying connected and we are working tirelessly to create the right culture where people can learn, grow and thrive. Through our GO Academy, we are providing technical and functional training and bespoke training across three main pillars: customer centricity, digital excellence and purposeful leadership. In 2021 we effectively doubled our investment in people training and development.

How have you been improving your overall customer experience?

We launched a new customer promise so none of our customers go without internet for more than a few hours. We digitised and streamlined several processes for greater efficiencies, empowered our front liners more and improved our digital contact channels namely the web chatbot and WhatsApp for our customers to reach us better. We also launched a new and improved customer portal for our business customers through which they can independently manage their services. Today, more than 77% of GO customers are using the GO App or MyGO portal.

GO always promoted the idea of bringing good TV content to its customers and this year was a particularly good year for TV

Yes, besides investing in the actual platform and improvements to the customer interface, we are now investing significantly in the production of local content. We committed €1m to be used in productions that are exclusive to GO customers – a first for GO and a milestone for the industry. Not only is local talent being supported but customers get to enjoy a fully-fledged library of local content that they love. The feedback we are receiving on the first production Chalet is overwhelmingly positive.

What is GO’s vision in the next year?

Going forward, we will remain focused on living our purpose and staying true to our values. This is what enabled us to deliver a strong financial performance, returns for our esteemed shareholders and value added, innovative services to our customers. These coming months we are also intent on minimising our environmental impact. We have measured our carbon footprint and have a strategy in place to reduce our environmental impact over the next five years by investing heavily in solar energy and transitioning to an electrical fleet by 2023.

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