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The Warsaw Voice » Business » May 28, 2008
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A Great Time to Be Here
May 28, 2008   
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Lars Svensson, president of Ericsson in Poland, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

Ericsson has a long history in Poland. Does this help in the company's operations today?
It forms a very good foundation for our activities today. When Ericsson came to Warsaw in 1904 we changed the whole telephony infrastructure and put all the cables underground. That was innovative for the time, as was the building that we built in an American style; it was nicknamed the "skyscraper" because it was the tallest building in the capital at the time. We were also unique in Warsaw because we employed 171 single women in our telephone exchange, which was a very prestigious position at the time, and we provided working standards that form the ethical basis of our company today.

How many people does Ericsson employ in Poland?
More than 700 directly. Our R&D company EricPol employs 1,000 engineers in Poland. Also in 2001 we sold our manufacturing plant and that company is located in Tczew near Gdańsk and employs 800 people manufacturing exclusively for Ericsson. The components are shipped to Sweden where they are assembled and exported all over the world. In fact, Ericsson in Poland is exporting more telecom products to Sweden than Sweden is to Poland.

Ericsson's Network Operation Centers (NOC) where network faults are reported are based in Sweden, Dallas and Kuala Lumpur so that we can provide a 24-hour service. We are slowly moving the operational centers based in Sweden to Poland, and we plan to employ an additional 150 people here by the end of the year.

What are some of your latest projects in Poland in the field of corporate social and environmental responsibility?
We work according to our code of conduct, which means that every company working for us has to undertake to follow our instructions on how they will behave in the market in regard to everything from environmental issues to child labor, or about not using unacceptable products in their subcontracting work for us. That is a big undertaking. Additionally, every year we plan to lower power consumption during the production process and to improve those methods that are not environmentally friendly.

Ericsson promotes artists in Poland. Last year the company received an award from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. What was the award for and what other community work is the company involved in?
The award was for 10 years of cooperation with the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. We help promote young artists, produce special art catalogues, and provide our gallery space where student artists can exhibit their works.

Our two recent community programs included our staff teaching elderly women to use the internet, and another in conducting dog-assisted therapy sessions for disabled children from an orphanage. We also support a children's hospital, and one of my favorites is the sponsorship of the translation of Swedish books into Polish.

How do you see the development of telecommunications in Poland and Ericsson's role in this process?
Telecommunications exploded in Poland in the last few years. When I came here in 2004 I felt Poland was three to four years behind the rest of Western Europe in mobile telephony technology. Today that gap has narrowed; we are quickly catching up, and now we are only one to two years behind.

In Warsaw you do not have fewer services than in London, Stockholm or Berlin, while there is still a long way to go in rural areas. Ericsson is the market leader in Poland in the latest mobile telephony technology, and we are helping develop the Polish market in this area.

What new projects does the company plan for Poland and in what areas of telecommunications do you see the biggest growth in Poland?
Because we are building networks that make it possible to have full internet connection on a PC or the mobile telephone, we now have to develop multimedia-that is all the services for those network applications.

The only growth is in building next-generation networks, high-speed internet and mobile telephony. The landline telephone in the home is slowly dying. The internet is growing fast in Poland. Four years ago only 10 percent of homes in Poland had the internet; today more than 40 percent of the population has it. The landline telephone and mobile services will be combined into one.

To summarize, we are extremely happy with our development in Poland. Our business is booming and flourishing, and everything is going extremely well. Last year was a fantastic, record year for us in all our areas in Poland. And this year looks to be equally good. It is a great time to be in Poland.

Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson has links with Poland that go back more than 100 years. In 1908, the company built the elegant PASTa (Polska Akcyjna Spółka Telegraficzna) building for its operations at 37 Zielna St. in Warsaw. This was the tallest building in the Polish capital at the time and is still standing. Ericsson became famous for employing women and providing exceptionally good working conditions in Warsaw. During World War II Ericsson was involved in helping the Polish population and in defending the PASTa building from German attacks.
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