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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » June 27, 2013
Greece in Poland
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Playing for Keeps
June 27, 2013   
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With its familiar white-and-purple logo and advertised by celebrities, mobile phone network Play boasts an impressive 9.1 million customers in Poland and a market share of over 16 percent.

The P4 company, which operates the Play network, is 50.3-percent owned by the Tollerton investment fund held by Greek businessman Panos Germanos, with the remaining 49.7 percent belonging to Icelandic fund Novator.

Play entered Poland’s highly competitive mobile phone market more than six years ago, on March 16, 2007, when the market was equally divided among three players. From the very beginning, Play decided to strike out firmly and break the existing arrangement. Each change was a small revolution and consumers benefited from Play’s presence. Upon its launch, Play offered a one-minute charge of just zl.0.49, in addition to flat-rate charges for calls to all networks, and cheap text and multimedia messages. The operator followed up with an attractively priced wireless internet service in July 2008. In March 2009, Play came up with a new offer called Play Fresh, with the lowest per-minute charges in prepaid plans at the time—at just zl.0.29. At the end of March 2012, Play revolutionized the market again with its FormuŁa 4.0 no-limit package.

Play’s consistent market strategies led to an increased number of customers and excellent financial results. In 2012, the company reported revenues in excess of zl.3.4 billion, 29 percent more than a year earlier. Its earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose by 40 percent, from zl.874 million in 2011 to over zl.1.2 billion in 2012.

Over the past several years, Play has invariably been the most popular operator with customers deciding to migrate to another operator while keeping their number. Seven in every 10 customers changing their operator choose Play, making it the leader on the Mobile Number Portability market.

In February this year, the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE), Poland’s telecommunications market regulator, announced the results of a tender procedure for frequencies in the 1800 MHz band, which is especially suitable for high-speed mobile internet and data transmission. Three of five available frequencies were allocated to P4. Thanks to them, Play will build a mobile internet network based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology, which will make it possible to increase the availability of broadband services not only in cities, but also in rural areas and towns. As a result, Play will be able to offer even more attractive services to its customers.

Until recently dubbed the enfant terrible of Polish telecommunications, Play is now the fifth most valuable brand in Poland, worth over zl.1.4 billion, according to an annual league table compiled by the Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper.
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