OSKAR CELEBRATES A RECORD-BREAKING FIRST YEAR IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Oskar, the latest mobile telecommunications network in the Czech Republic and one of the fastest-growing third mobile operators in Europe, will celebrate its first birthday on March 1st. Oskar, who launched its commercial operations just one year ago, is credited with bringing about radical changes to the mobile communication market in the Czech Republic primarily through its positioning of the mobile phone as a consumer good affordable to every one, every day. In October of 1999, when Český Mobil was awarded a dual-band license for operation of a GSM network in the 900/1800 MHz frequency bands, there were very few experts who considered the company’s commitments realistic or achievable. The aggressive network rollout deadlines set by the Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) and agreed to by Cesky Mobil were widely believed to be impossibly short. Many also cited the already fiercely competitive Czech telecoms market as well as the country’s high mobile penetration rates as additional big barriers to success for a third entrant.
In October of 1999, when Český Mobil was awarded a dual-band license for operation of a GSM network in the 900/1800 MHz frequency bands, there were very few experts who considered the company’s commitments realistic or achievable. The aggressive network rollout deadlines set by the Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) and agreed to by Cesky Mobil were widely believed to be impossibly short. Many also cited the already fiercely competitive Czech telecoms market as well as the country’s high mobile penetration rates as additional big barriers to success for a third entrant. Yet, by the time of Oskar’s commercial launch on March 1st, 2000, the company had already begun to prove the critics wrong. In addition to already exceeding certain bid commitments ahead of schedule, the company launched with a marketing approach that was truly unique for the Czech Republic. From the innovative name and branding concept through to its direct delivery and customer care focus, Oskar proved itself to be part of a cutting-edge breed of new technology companies that demonstrate a strong focus and flexible approach to evolving customer needs and attitudes. „Oskar made mobile phones affordable consumer goods in the Czech Republic. Thanks to Oskar, buying a mobile phone now is as easy as ordering a pizza,“ says Al Tolstoy, Chief Executive Officer at Český Mobil.
Oskar’s original offer is the same one it has today: no written contracts, no activation fees and the offer of flat rates throughout the day. In addition, Oskar was the first mobile operator in the Czech Republic to introduce per second billing after the first minute so that customers only pay for what they actually use. Oskar also rolls over free unused minutes into the following month, allowing customers to optimize the use of their price plans.
Oskar also proved that success is possible even when mobile phones are not subsidized. Oskar‘s distribution system is based on a smart system, which saves the customer money as a result. „The customer should not pay the cost of extensive distribution channels as he does not need them to place phone calls,“ says Karla Stephens, Český Mobil’s Chief Commercial Officer. Oskar replaced the middleman channel with a phone line for ordering products and services that guarantee direct delivery within 48 hours (majority arrive within 24 hours).
Easy accessibility is another feature of any successful consumer good. Oskar not only offers direct delivery service but also has set up four-wheeled stores – “Oskaravans” - putting mobile communication within reach of customers living in small towns and villages. These mobile stores visit all the regions of the Czech Republic, providing customers with all of the benefits of Oskar’s great service as found in Oskar stores built of brick.
Oskar sees a very promising future for Internet commerce. Since the day of launch, Oskar customers have been able to take advantage of the Oskar virtual shopping cart to buy handsets and services. The response to this channel of distribution has been strong and Oskar looks forward to growing it substantially over the coming months and years. At the same time, Oskar’s attractive corporate store concept will continue to be rolled out across the Czech Republic meeting the needs of customers who prefer a more traditional approach to purchasing mobile telephony products and services. Advertising campaigns based on simplicity, humor and unique forms of communication have contributed much to Oskar’s strong brand awareness after just one year. The success of this advertising strategy is best shown by Oskar’s nearly 90% brand awareness on the Czech market as well as the 10 international awards received last year. Oskar’s innovative and creative approach has stimulated the Czech advertising market and opened the door for new initiatives in advertising.
All of last year’s conditions ensuing from the License Agreement were fulfilled ahead of schedule. As stated by the Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ), Český Mobil fulfilled all requirements set for year 2000. In terms of coverage, Ceský Mobil’s current 98.1% population coverage means that it has already managed to fulfill license conditions originally set for the end of year 2003.
On the occasion of its first birthday, Oskar offers two gifts to its customers. First, customers can now take advantage of the possibility of doing all financial transactions connected with the use of Oskar’s services 24 hours a day using a chain of more then 100 ATM machines across the Czech Republic (this number is to be extended soon – see attached press release for details). Second, the Motorola T 2288 is now offered at a price of only 2999 Kč, making it one of the lowest-cost handsets available that support WAP technology. In combination with highly acclaimed Oskar’s WAP with full personalization of WAP structure and content it serves as a down-to-earth assistant for your everyday communication needs. „We do not consider ourselves a market leader but rather the bearer of change in the way we approach the modern, mobile telecommunications customer. Oskar’s attitude intensifies the pressure for change, which benefits the customer above all, “ says Karla Stephens, the Chief Commercial Officer.
Český Mobil a.s. became the third mobile network operator in the Czech Republic after being granted a GSM 900/1800 dual band license by the Czech government in October 1999 and launched commercial operations on March 1, 2000 under the brand name Oskar. Oskar exceeded the 300.000 customer mark at the end of year 2000, thus becoming in the first year the fastest growing GSM operator in the Czech Republic.
Český Mobil a.s. is a member of telecommunications group of Canadian-based Telesystem International Wireless (TIW). TIW is a rapidly growing, global mobile communications operator with over 4.8 million subscribers worldwide. The Company's shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange ("TIW") and NASDAQ ("TIWI").
TIW is deploying a pan-European digital specialized mobile radio (ESMR) network through its subsidiary Dolphin Telecom plc. Dolphin currently offers ESMR services in the United Kingdom, in addition to analog SMR services in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Portugal.
In addition to its Dolphin operations, TIW is the strategic and operating partner of Brazil’s fifth largest cellular group. In Central and Eastern Europe, TIW is a cellular market leader in Romania. After being granted the GSM licence in October 1999 it became a rapidly growing dual-band GSM operator in the Czech Republic.