Nikolay Loparevich

Nikolay Loparevich, Deputy Chief Information Technologies Officer of «KamenskTelecom», speaking about the secrets of a company’s stability, methods of competition with the mobile internet, solution of the customers’ payments problem, and insidious old ladies.

They say that your company is the actual monopolist in Kamensk-Uralsky. How do you manage to keep the other global players out of the market? MTS, for instance?

This information is an overstatement. We estimate that our company covers 40% to 45% of all customers. This is pretty much as well, though, considering the six companies of regional and federal scale that compete with us. Those are, first of all, the local companies, namely «Convex», «Intersvyaz», «TransTelecom», «Planeta», and also «Rostelecom» and «MTS», mentioned by you.

«KamenskTelecom» continuously updates the customer base: some people connect, and some people disconnect. However, the recipe for the stability of the company is that its owners are locals. They have been living and working in Kamensk-Uralsky for many years. This allows them to rapidly take decisions and control the quality of services in the online mode, so to say. When a business is operated by its owner, instead of an appointed managing officer, the matters can be solved faster and more effectively.

The second success factor is a cohesive team, the members of which were recruited by the owner himself, who is very well familiar with this industry. Aleksandr Ivanovich Serebrov is a descendant of a communications workers' family. For over twenty years, he worked in the position of officer in charge of a communications station. Nowadays, Yana Aleksandrovna, his daughter, is the Chief Executive Officer, but he himself, despite being retired, is absorbed in the company’s work to the maximum and takes part in the decision-making.

We can learn how important it is from the example of one of the competing companies. Its owner lived in Kamensk-Uralsky as well some time ago, and he was a very strong player back then. Nowadays, it is managed by the appointed managing officer, which is why they began giving up the ground. The interesting thing is, however, that the companies from the Urals, and not the Federal companies, are the strongest competition.

What services do you render, apart from the provider services?

All related services: from telephony and installation of the local networks to the video surveillance. Also, our company owns the Aquamarine, the best and the largest fitness club in our town.

«KamenskTelecom» now receives payments for services via telephone, and «JoinPAY company helped you to introduce this method of payment. Why did this method of customers’ payments become necessary?

People increasingly tend to save their time and want their needs satisfied here and now. Before now, we had to ask many customers to come to our office to pay for the services. The jobs were many, and there were not enough payment terminals, not enough field workers for everyone. Besides, it is pretty costly.

We have always worked in strict compliance with the law. We have never sold equipment or services for cash without issuing a cash receipt. Even a sale with cash receipt issuance somewhere in the office with the buyer absent is unacceptable. So, the handy and quick payment is actually an urgent problem, and «JoinPAY» company helped us to cope with it. Before choosing it, I analyzed the market, the competing companies, and I can say that as of today, their SoftPOS solution is the only one that enables us to do this. One of the banks has similar functionality, but it has its nuances that I am not comfortable with.

The main benefit of this application is the ability to accept payments from a customer’s contactless bank card or their «google-apple-pay» telephone. Nowadays, all of our field workers can do that without an expensive stand-alone terminal, comply with all the requirements of law and fiscalization of sales, and this by using their mobile phones only.

A quote on your website says: «we connected everything, from pagers to GBIT networks». Is there anything you can recall about the times of «pagers», and about who needs the GBIT networks?

I have seen the times of pagers, and nowadays we already connect 10-GBIT networks instead of GBIT networks.

As to the pagers, it was a very handy gadget. People did not see that their message was already read by you (laughs). Long story short, it was a good thing, simple and user-friendly, with only the functions that you basically needed.

However, pagers went out of use very quickly. The doctors and similar services were those who used it for the longest time. For them, it was actually a handy communication device.

I feel like the telecom services worked with pagers for six years. Perhaps this was a blink of an eye for humankind, but a whole milestone for our company that was just virtually starting up back then. We learned how to work with people, established many processes. Only afterward, telephone communications, the internet and everything else emerged. It means that «KamenskTelecom» worked with virtually all technologies available in this field.

As to the networks, GBIT is nowadays a reference point already, and the next step is 10-GBIT. Otherwise, we will not be able to compete with 5G in five or ten years.

Nowadays, speed and convenience are of essence for the people. Especially for the coming generation. They want to download the games and applications quickly, in five or six minutes at most. Otherwise, they will look for such service somewhere else. Besides, if we just keep the quality of services simply acceptable, what will be the difference between mobile communications and the landline? For the residential Internet service to be in demand, it has to be tenfold faster than the mobile Internet service. To keep up with this order and reveal it to the customers, we need GBIT and 10-GBIT communication. Ultra HD is already a standard definition, and the age of 8К comes. The technology race continuously causes situations where someone who wants a good image quality cannot do without landline Internet.

You live in a fairly small town. How digitalized its population is?

As digitalized as in the major cities, I suppose. Each household, if we consider a family as a whole, is connected to the Internet, one way or another. Not everyone connects to the landline Internet, but there are no ordinary people who are not connected to the digital world.

Did the pandemic influence your work somehow?

It definitely did. In March of the previous year, the traffic volume spiked so rapidly that we had to take urgent engineering measures for the quality to remain the same. I think that we will never return to the way of living that was before the pandemic. Humankind gained new experience of communication, work and interaction, and integrated it into its life and it is unlikely to forgo this experience.

There is a quote on your website saying that to connect the Internet «at the Ural» or «at the backdoor of the meat-packing factory» is as simple as ABC. What does it mean?

We wanted to show the advantage of an organization that has employees who live and work in their hometown, who know the local slang and peculiar features. «At Ural» means around the «Ural» bus stop, and only a local will understand that. As to the meat-packing factory, it no longer exists, and there is a residential compound now, but the expression remained.

Do you have any uncommon stories about the connection of the customers or the provision of services to them?

Ten or twelve years ago, we had a customer who wanted a fiber-optic cable in his house. Back then, one GBIT was an overkill indeed. He could not clearly explain to what purpose he needed that. He probably read somewhere that it was the best option that one could have in the world of the Internet. The customer did not care how much this service cost, he needed a fiber-optic cable, period. The installation staff even had to open up the case and show that they brought in a fiber-optic cable, not a copper cable.

Apart from that, some anecdotes happen all the time. There are not-so-rare stories about old ladies who lock the installation staff on the roof or in the attic, and we have to rescue them afterward. Or about the people who call in the workers not to repair the equipment, but just to talk or help with something else than the Internet. However, it is almost a routine already. Such cases happen virtually every day.

If a person comes to your town, where would you suggest they go?

It depends on the season. In the winter, it is better to visit «Bogatyryok», our mountain ski resort located right in the center of the town. If you are here in the summer, you can stroll through the parks. Many of them emerged in the town over the last two years. «Rovesnik» park and «Sosnovy Bor» health resort are wonderful places, they have beautiful nature, cliffs, and a river.

And the iconic landmark of this town is «The Cannon» monument, which is known to any dweller of Kamensk-Uralsky. «The Cannon» is in Sinara District, and the sign on its pedestal says: «To the workers of Kamensk-Uralsky, the cannon craftsmen, those who glorified Russia...»

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