Dr Tayfun Acarer is the President of Turkey’s Telecommunications Authority and Chairman of the Telecommunications Board. Prior to his current post, Dr Acarer served as a Member of the Board and Assistant General Manager of the Directorate General of Coastal Safety and Salvage Administration General Management under the Ministry of Transport. Dr Acarer also held the post of Director of Coastal Radio Communications at Türk Telekomünikasyon A.Ş. Dr Acarer graduated from the Electronics and Communications Department of Istanbul Technical University. He received his MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Istanbul.
Turkey’s communications market has much potential to grow given the size of its population and its growing economy. The telecoms market has been liberalised, competition introduced by licensing competitive operators and 55 per cent of the incumbent fixed-line operator privatised. The PSTN grew rapidly since the 1980s, but close to 100 per cent household penetration and competition from mobile telephony has virtually stopped its growth. Strong domestic and foreign investment, together with additional competitive licensing, has greatly stimulated continued mobile growth.
The wireless telecommunication industry is growing exponentially and, as a result, the world’s three billion mobile cellular subscribers currently outnumber fixed telephone lines by 14 per cent. Several European countries already enjoy mobile penetration rates of over 100 per cent, while the less developed countries are exploiting the opportunity afforded by mobile technology to boost their lagging telecommunication infrastructures. Many analysts forecast that there will soon be over 3.5 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. Turkey’s communications market holds much potential given the size of its population and its growing economy. The telecoms market has been liberalised with the licences awarded to alternative operators and a 55 per cent stake in the incumbent fixed-line operator was privatised. The mobile telecom market in Turkey, with its 72 million inhabitants, is growing fast. Turkey has a great potential in Europe regarding the penetration of mobile services as the young population eagerly adopts new technologies and services. Telephony After having developed rapidly since the 1980s, in terms of both geographical availability and number of subscribers, the PSTN (public switched telephone network) began to slowdown after GSM services were introduced. Table 1 and Figure 1 provide information regarding the number of PSTN subscribers between 1995 and 2007. As seen in Figure 1, between 1995 and 2001 the average rate of increase in the number of PSTN subscribers was about seven to eight per cent per year. From 2001, it shows a horizontal trend and there is about a one per cent decrease in 2007. One of the reasons for this is the saturation of the market (Table 2). The household telephone penetration rate almost reached 100 per cent. Other reasons behind the horizontal trend may include the increasing usage of mobile telephone services. Although the PSTN penetration rate in Turkey is lower than the European average, the household telephone penetration rate for Turkey is quite high (household penetration rate is approximately 100 per cent) because the average number of people in the typical family structure is rather large. GSM data for 2006 GSM growth has been strong in virtually every region of the world. The GSM sector in our country also shows the same sort of rapid development as it does all over the world. Turkey began with GSM in 1994 with two operators. During the first year of operation, 1994, there were only 80,000 subscribers; this increased rapidly and reached nearly 63.1 million in the 13 years that followed (Figure 3). The growth of Turkey’s GSM sector was especially strong at the end of the 1990s. The telecommunications sector attracted not only domestic investors but also foreign ones. In this atmosphere, and given the impact of the increase in competition stimulated by the new GSM licences, the number of subscribers in the GSM sector increased 24 per cent, on average, between 2000 and 2008 March. Figure 3 and Table 3 provide information on number of subscribers and rate of increase over the years. Finally, it should be emphasised that the growth of Turkey’s economy will guarantee the continued strong growth of the sector in the foreseeable future. This growth, together with a young and growing population and the ever-increasing levels of national productivity and wealth, has placed Turkey on the list of top investment destinations for the telecoms industry. Mobile telecommunications have proven that the Turkish market provides foreign investors with predictable growth opportunities that will outperform other markets of similar size and income.