4th Infocom Albania Forum
100 years of Albanian Independence
From Infrastructure Evolution to Digital Revolution
The 4th InfoCom Albanian Telecom Forum (www.infocom.al) will take place onTuesday, November 20th, 2012 at Sheraton Tirana Hotel, Albania and is once more expected to become the main attraction for the Telecom & Information Technology industry.
The conference is organized by media company Smart Press S.A., one of the leading companies in this field, owner of numerous technology websites, printed magazines publisher and renowned conference organizer.
The 4th InfoCom Albanian Telecom Forum is the next in line of the very successful events, organized by Smart Press SA during the last 15 years of Conference organizing, in Greece and Cyprus.
This year’s conference is all about creating. Creating the infrastructure that will lead to the so much yearned digital revolution which will -in turn- lead to enhanced productivity and fast paced development, in a country that has proven many times before in it’s 100 years of Independence that, it can make very good use of new opportunities. The ICT sector, one of the leading in the market, is the answer to the global recession and Albania is at its best to prove that the only way to go forward, is digital. This applies to various sections of the local economy, starting from the citizens’ relation to the centralized government (e-government) to the way people entertain themselves (digital TV) or communicate (telephony – internet- cloud).
The 4th InfoCom Albanian Telecom Forum aims to identify the optimum practices and foresee the future of ICT in Albania. The sessions of the conference are as follows:
1st Session: It’s all about broadband!
It is generally recognized that broadband may contribute to the increase of the GNP in any country, but it is also obvious the major significance that costs for physical infrastructure deployment play… Operators and vendors are obliged to take into consideration the Return of Investment and profitability model that allows a constant viability.
Yet, since the broadband infrastructure at the end of the day will be a national capital, how and whom may determine the contribution of the State? What is the role of the investment legal framework? And what broadband model will prevail? Mobile, fixed, copper or fiber? Finally, how long will it take to the 4G era?
The key-points for the panel discussion are:
- Funding mechanisms for promoting the deployment of broadband infrastructure – the case for state subsidization, especially for rural areas, following the successful EU paradigm about Rural BB
- Fostering private investment in broadband through incentive regulation
- Stimulating innovation and development of applications and services
- Expanding digital literacy for the coming generation
2nd Session: e-Albania: Let the data flow…
As time goes by, voice services are quickly leaving the scene and data usage is stepping on the cloud. Broadband enables the provision of e-apps and especially m-apps (m-agriculture, m-banking, m-health, m-education, etc) and the good thing is that all these features may be accessible by the whole population in urban or rural areas, rich or poor.
The positive effect to the economy is visible almost at once: e-commerce, micro payments, custom location based services and information, enhanced control and monitoring data, augmented reality to the handset could boost economy, by providing Value Added Products and Services.
On the e-Gov front, some implementations have already been alive and more are on the way. The private sector has also been active and we have witnessed some very successful implementations and synergies on e-Services, for example on e-Health, e-Education (e-Security and parental control included) and other fields with serious social impact.
However, more will soon “populate” Albania’s daily life, as Cloud Computing –which is widely regarded as the next generation of Service Delivery- will surely bring new life in many different sectors offering cost savings, increased scalability and more efficient use of resources.
The key points for the panel discussion are:
- Implementation models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS)
- Providers strategy
- Deployment models
- SLA promises and KPI’s achievement
3rd Session: CEO Summit – Searching for the right balance
The major stakeholders in the Albanian ICT market will meet on the stage of InfoCom Albania Forum and express their views on the most important issues the country faces nowadays in this sector.
There goes without saying that the right balance should be found as soon as possible concerning investments and profits, liberalization and regulation of the market, employee benefits and unemployment, convergence and separatism.
If their efforts prove successful, the outcome may propel the development of the country – if not, stagnation would be inevitable. The time is ripe and opportunities are in waiting. In 2015 Albania switches from analog to digital TV. What are the next steps that have to be taken by the hardware and software companies, the Media sector and the public in order to better position themselves before the D-day? What are the lessons learned from the recent Greek equivalent, where many problems were solved by the establishment of a common platform, DIGEA?
InfoCom Albania Awards
Last but not least, the Conference closes with the InfoCom Albania Awards which reward and honor innovative companies, services, products and market executives.
The purpose of the awards is to publicly recognize the efforts and the effectiveness of all those who have contributed their creativity and passion to market growth and technology advancements in Albania
09:00 – 09:30 Registrations & Coffee
Costas Nostis – Georgios Blekas, Organizing Committee
09:30 – 11:45 Session 1: It’s all about Broadband!
Genc Pollo, Minister of Innovation & ICT
Ettore Sequi, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union
Jim Barnhart, Mission Director, USAID
Anastasios Nikoyiannis, Regional Sales Area Manager, Skylogic
Dragos-Mircea Rebegea, Country Manager, Ericsson
Wei Heng, General Manager, Huawei
Dimitrios Papadopoulos, General Manager, NSN
Panagiotis Dallas, Wireless Systems Manager, Intracom Telecom
Gentian Bajraktari, CTO, AbissNet
Elton Poga, CTO, Top Channel
Athanasios Karanasis, Area Manager, Adtran
Moderator – Ioannis Tomkos, Professor, Athens Information Technology (AIT)
11:45 – 12:15 Coffee Break
12:15 – 14:15 Section 2: e-Albania, Let the data flow…
Endri Hasa, Director of National Agency on Information Society (AKSHI)
Arjan Xhelaj, Center Director, Academic Network of Albania (ANA)
Edlira Kasaj, CEO, ProTIK ICT Resource Center
Dritan Mezini, Board Chairman, Albanian Information and Technology Association (AITA)
Artur Nurja, Technical Director, M-Pay
Arsen Kurti, Country Manager, Microsoft
Genci Likoskendaj, CCS Group
Samir Mekic, Account Manager Sales, Cisco
Nikos Tsantanis, Senior Product Manager, Telco Software, Intracom Telecom
Lorenzo Gonzales, Strategist for Engerprise Group, EMEA, HP
Murat Gurkas, Marketing Director, Eagle Mobile
Elvis Bregu, New Products and Services Supervisor, Vodafone Albania
Adrian Cioroianu, Business Development Manager, Intel
Ionas Bantekas, CEO, M-Stat
14:15 – 15:00 Lunch Break
15:00 – 17:00 Session 3: CEO Summit – Searching for the right balance
Pirro Xhixho, Chairman of the Agency of Electronic and Postal Communications (AKEP)
Endira Bushati, Chairwoman, National Council of Radio & Television (KKRT)
Sidrit Malevi, Head of Technical Secreteriat for Implementation of Switchover Strategy / Director of Digital Albania
Endri Mataj, Advisor to the Prime Minister for Information Society
Gjergji Gjinko, Director Of Cabinet, Ministry of Innovation & ICT
Altin Rrapaj, Director of Market Regulation, Agency of Electronic and Postal Communications (AKEP)
Dimitrios Blatsios, CEO, AMC
Dietlof Mare, CEO, Vodafone Albania
Orhan Coskun, CEO ALBtelecom & Eagle Mobile
Julien Coustaury, CEO, Plus
Artan Dulaku, Tring Telecommunications and Tring TV
Alban Jaho, General Director, Digitalb
Genti Daci, CEO, Abcom
Questions & Answers
17:00 InfoCom Albania Awards
4th InfoCom Albanian Telecom Forum
‘Infrastructure evolution plus Digital revolution’
Already recognized as an institution from the Information & Telecommunications market as well as the political leadership of Albania, the 4th InfoCom Albanian Telecom Forum took place on 20 November in Tirana, under the title ‘Infrastructure evolution plus Digital revolution’
The title describes the current reality with great accuracy, because important progress in telecom infrastructure is combined with the digital revolution and already has positive influence to citizen’s everyday life. Of course, the “revolution” which brings technological advances to the people, virtually never ends. Practically, it’s rather a series of small victories. However, over the time, their sum gives the desired positive thrust to entrepreneurship and personal life.
Obviously, difficulties are not scarce in such a long way and several of them were pointed out during the conference by representatives of the local market and the state. Yet, it also became clear that there exists a vision and will, in order designs and targets to become reality.
This will was clearly declared by Minister of Innovation & ICT of the Albanian government, Genk Polo. The minister reaffirmed the government’s and country commitment for the expansion of broadband through close cooperation between public and private sector, but also the intention to strengthen the “wind of change” through institutional interventions, that will enable faster spread of applications for computers, tablets and mobiles, that will constantly improve the everyday life and create an entrepreneurship ecosystem. Mr. Polo has also made a reference to the prospect of LTE, the implementation of major government digital projects (procurement, customs, public records etc.), education of the necessary human resources and the general population, as well as the sustainability of the already significant investments, highlighting that there is room for everyone in the new field being already formed.
The representative of the European Union, Ambassador Ettore Sequi, pointed out on his speech, the importance of the spread of broadband in Albania. Citing data from other countries, he acknowledged the significant progress already made, but he also noted the great challenges in the future, promising more resources and help from Europe in this direction.
Similar promises were given by the chief of USAid mission in Albania Jim Barnhart, who also gave priority to the issues of intellectual property, financial instruments and physical infrastructure, but also to the education of users and the provision of certain incentives. He mentioned the existing synergies with American Universities and welcomed the first applications of technology in the fields of justice, health, etc.
Anastasios Nikogiannis , regional sales manager of Skylogic, suggested broadband Internet access via satellite as a solution to the existing infrastructure problems in Albania (only 4% penetration of fixed telephony ). The Tooway solution has already been implemented with great success in the country for Internet access, as more than 1000 Post Offices all over Albania were connected within only two months…
The panel, which was moderated by AIT Professor, Dr. John Tomkos, was followed by a very interesting round table discussion, dealing with the dissemination of broadband, as seen by the markets’ point of view. Taking part were the local directors of Ericsson – Mircea Dragan Rempegea, Huawei’s Wei Chengk, Dimitris Papadopoulos from NSN, Panagiotis Dallas Wireless Systems Manager of Intracom Telecom, Gentian Bajraktari CTO of AbissNet, Thanasis Karanassis area manager of Adtran, and Eldon Poga, CTO of Top Channel. Everyone recognized that significant progress has been made in ICT in Albania, but stressed that even greater investments (in BB and 3G) were needed, possibly with some state aid due to the geomorphology of the country, along with more applications and more clear strategy by the Regulator, in order technological solutions to play the role of progress catalyst for the country. According to the speakers, this is the necessary and sufficient condition for strategic decisions that will be most beneficial for enterprises and institutions, in a country that has great capacity and potentialities.
Session 2 / e-Albania: Let the data flow…
This session was dedicated to the increased request of data flow between users and networks. Initial suggestions from officials and representatives, starting with Endri Hasa, General Director of the National Agency for Information Society (AKSHI), who described the steps for the transition from the initial adjustment period to the current service period by creating applications and e-services for the general public.
Next, the representative of the Albanian Academic Network, Arjan Xhelaj, referred to the u.gov platform, created with Italian contribution, and described the many possibilities offered by facilitating daily educational community in Albania. Edlira Kasaj, who took over on behalf of the Innovation Centre ProTIK ICT Resource Center, described the possibilities and services that it provides to stakeholders, in terms of infrastructure and networking, while Dritan Mezini , president of the Albanian Association for Business Information spotted the prospects that the private sector could gain, from the promotion of e-governance in the country and also pointed out that the need for state contribution. Last but not least, Artur Nurja, Technical Director of M-pay, presented the ‘electronic wallet’ built into mobile phones (mobile wallet), which is currently being tested in practice and appears to bring significant advantages to its users.
The section continued with a round table, which was attended by local Microsoft’s Chief Executive, Arsen Kurti , the representative of CCS Group, Genci Likoskendaj, the Account Sales Manager of Cisco, Samir Mekic, the senior member of Intracom Telecom, Nick Tsantanis , the Director of Marketing at Eagle Mobile, Murat Gurkas, the New Products & Services Supervisor of Vodafone Albania, Elvis Bregu, the Business Development Mgr from Intel, Adrian Cioroianu, and the CEO of M-Stat Hellas, Ion Bantekas.
The private sector representatives described the current position of the ICT market in Albania, citing their success stories, but also the problems they face. The positive conclusion was that a critical mass of telecom users exists now in the country, but more players are needed for competition to function. It should also be noted that companies are moving from providing solutions to providing experiences. Therefore, multinational enterprises should give more attention to recruiting local people who can interact with the customers. They agreed that the future lies in mobility and when the public has been trained, they would know how best utilize the information and telecommunication ecosystem in order to exploit hidden opportunities.
Session 3 / Searching for the right balance…
The third and last section of the forum, which was moderated by journalist John Rizopoulos, began with Altin Rrapaj, Director of Market Regulation, Agency of Electronic & Postal Communications (AKEP), who shared useful information with the audience on the progress made in several areas, particularly regarding broadband penetration, which has almost doubled over the last three years, while emphasizing the continuous improvement of investment conditions in Albania.
The representative of the National Broadcasting Council, Sami Nezaj, declared that there is no better time for existing providers, which would actually make substantial gains from the reallocation of spectrum. He was followed by, Sidrit Malevi, Head of Technical Secretariat for Implementation of Switchover Strategy and Director of Digital Albania, who described the state of preparations for the great moment for digital switchover in June 2015 and mentioned that the total cost for this project is expected to reach 26 million Euros.
The round table discussion, which completed the section, with the participation of many CEOs was intended to -continuously, but not in vain- search for the right balance between investment and profits, freedom of competition and regulatory control, reasonable wages and unemployment risks…
It seemed that the ICT market and state institutions are now ready to search for real-market answers. This was proven beyond doubt during the conversation, where all participants stated and described their point of view exploring common interests but also focusing on differences to discuss. Prime Minister’s advisor for Information Society issues, Endri Mataj, the Director of Cabinet at the Ministry of Innovation & ICT Gjergji Gjinko, Director of AKEP Altin Rrapaj, CEO of AMC Dimitris Blatsios, CEO of Vodafone Albania, Dietlof Mare, CEO of ALB Telecom and Eagle Mobile Orhan Coskun, CEO of ‘Plus’ Julien Coustaury, General Manager of Digialb, Alban Jaho, and CEO of Abcom, Genti Daci, all took part in the lively discussion.
The main topics around which the debate evolved, were – unsurprisingly… – investments, the need for transparent initiatives on regulatory issues, the establishment of a modern connectivity framework, the challenge of LLU, next steps in mobile Broadband and the path to 4G, services provided by modern data centers, the synergies that can multiply the benefits and reduce costs, but also the need for new investments in digital TV, combined with proper contributions for innovation.
All speakers described as positive the developments over the past year and commented on the good news, heard on the same day by the representatives of the State during the Forum. Yet, they have also asked for solutions to structural problems, a reduction of risks for investors and the formulation of an improved operational framework market, which could be even better, though (and this was the biggest gripe for them ) the share of the state investment was a little bigger … The future belongs to mobility, therefore, in Albania, as well!
4th InfoCom Albanian Telecom Forum closed in warm applause from the delegates, both for its own success and for the people and enterprises winning awards for their performance and outstanding practice during the past year.
The awards winners were:
- Innovation and Education – Microsoft for the company contribution in evolving technological education and innovation in Albania
- CSR award – Vodafone Albania for the Mobile Telemedicine initiative
- 3G Business Excellence – AMC for the successful deployment of its 3G network
- Triple Play Business Excellence – Tring Communications for the most effective combined presence on telecommunications, broadband and television in Albania
- Manager of the Year – Mr. Orhan Coskun, CEO of ALBTelecom & Eagle Mobile for the most effective utilization of managerial merge of ALBTelecom and Eagle mobiles, in a unified business model in order to achieve unified services and economies of scale.
InfoCom Albania Awards honor innovative companies, services, products and market executives.
The purpose of the awards is to publicly recognize the efforts and the effectiveness of all those who have contributed their creativity and passion to market growth and technology advancements in Albania.
This year the Organizing committee selected the following awards
Innovation and Education to Microsoft for the company contribution in evolving technological education and innovation in Albania
CSR award, to Vodafone Albania for Telemedicine through Mobile
3G Business Excellence award, to AMC for the successful deployment of its 3G network
Triple Play Business Excellence award, to Tring Communications for the most effective combining presence in Albania, on telecommunications, broadband and television
Manager of the Year award, to Mr. Orhan Coskun, CEO of ALBTelecom and Eagle Mobile for the most effective utilization of managerial merge of ALBtelecom and Eagle mobiles, in a unified business model in order to achieve unified services and scale economy.