Tore Johnsen, the new head of Total Access Communication (DTAC), intends to make his company a successful wireless-broadband player by capitalising on third-generation (3G) technology and enthusiastic staff.
During an interview last week, the CEO said 3G mobile broadband service was one key to strengthening the company’s wireless business and boosting data revenue. But DTAC will not rush launching the service before it feels sure it can guarantee complete customer satisfaction.
“If we can’t satisfy them, they’ll stop using our service. If they have a bad service experience, they’ll blame us. We need to do the right thing and speak the customers’ language,” said the 60-year-old, who was born in a village named Hell in Norway.
But will consumers care to splurge on 3G if the economic and political situation has not cleared up by the time the service is debuted?
“We don’t foresee any impact on our plan. Instead, we think it is even more important for us to go ahead with our investment, to help stimulate the economy and boost investors’ confidence in the country,” Johnsen said.
DTAC is in the final stage of selecting a 3G-network supplier and intends to complete the first-phase network roll-out in major provinces in next year’s second quarter.
“All [operators] can have the same 3G technology, but what matters is how to take it to the market and fit the customer’s need. The 3G service is a different business from voice and SMS,” he said.
The 3G technology enables fast data transmission and broadband-Internet connectivity. DTAC will launch the service on its 850-megahertz spectrum.
DTAC has also continued to focus on its second-generation service, in order to bridge the gap in market share with Advanced Info Service (AIS). AIS and DTAC have more than 26 million and 18 million subscribers, respectively.
Prior to assuming his present post, Johnsen served as CEO of Telenor Pakistan from its start-up in 2004 following a four-year period as strategic director and later CEO of DiGi Telecommunications in Malaysia.
He took Telenor Pakistan from the No-5 spot to No 2 through a quick network roll-out and development of a strong distribution channel.
Johnsen joined Norway’s Telenor in 1974 in the technical area before moving around in many of the telecom giant’s operations in various countries. He holds a Master of Science degree and has studied international business management.
He realises he will be inevitably measured against his predecessor, Brekke.
“I know Sigve very well, and I know people will compare me with him, something I have to face. I’m not Sigve, and I have no plan to be. The most important thing is to develop the company,” Johnsen said.
Brekke, with his personal flair and leadership ability, turned DTAC from a financially bleeding firm into a healthy player during his stint of almost seven years.
Johnsen credits DTAC’s success to not only its leader, but also the support of all of the company’s enthusiastic employees.
To further develop the company, everyone must learn new ideas, be ready to take risks and venture outside of their comfort zones, he said.
Despite stress from work, he said he was able to stay pretty calm.
“I can go formal when people expect me to be formal. But when I go home and just take off my clothes and go shorts and T-shirt, I can take off much of my stress. Just changing clothes is relaxing for me,” he smiled.
Besides eagerness to learn new ideas from his staff, he is keen to learn about Thailand’s culture through travelling and mingling with its people. More than that, hitting the road is another way to get to know the market.
“I’m looking forward to doing that in Thailand,” he said.