The pandemic has put us as a country and a society to the test. Andorra Telecom’s challenge during this crisis is a dual one: to guarantee connectivity at a critical time and to capitalise on the company’s financial muscle so as to support the families and companies that have been most affected by it.
The lockdown is a real trial for the robustness of the telecommunications networks. The Internet infrastructure is easily coping with the record peaks of traffic stemming from working from home, video conferences, distance learning and audiovisual leisure consumption. Connections have never been so vital for the maintenance of economic and social activity and the response, backed up by ongoing investment, is as excellent as that of the professionals who, mostly from their homes, are ensuring that the company continues to operate as usual and that the projects don’t come to a halt. This deployment is reflected in increases in the customer satisfaction rates and a reinforcement of the Andorra Telecom brand.
The other major goal for the company is to stand by citizens and businesses. Aware of the difficulties facing the productive fabric, it approved discounts on the services it offers worth 1.6 million euros during 2020. Nearly 5,500 companies and self-employed workers are benefiting from discounts ranging from 80% of the service bill in the event of the partial suspension of their activity to 100% when the shutdown is complete. The measures have not only been geared towards discounts on the final invoice, as customer payments have been made more flexible by means of instalment arrangements. We’re also partnering the Ministry of Social Affairs by offering families in a vulnerable situation discounts on a basic telecommunications package.
One of the lines of support, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, is to ensure students all have an excellent connection and devices enabling them to follow their lessons from home. The free opening of the Premium TV channels at a time when television was becoming an essential leisure and information tool, the setting up of a direct helpline for charitable donations and technological support for the stop labs, the appearances of the Government and nursing and retirement homes have been other initiatives designed to alleviate the effects of the health and social crisis.
But our sense of social responsibility goes far beyond telecommunications. Our business relationship with the Chinese company Huawei has meant 100,000 face masks have been brought to the Principality at a time of scarcity and been made available to the health authorities. At the same time, the reserves accumulated by the company cannot be better used than by allocating part of them (20 million euros) to fund the exceptional costs associated with the pandemic, a one-off distribution approved by the general shareholders’ meeting.
Similarly, Andorra Telecom, like the rest of the economic fabric, has had to cope with the fall in activity and, therefore, its income. The restrictions on mobility throughout many months of the year are reflected in a decrease of 10.8 million euros set against 2019 and 6.3 million euros compared to the budgeted figure, a reduction which, given the circumstances, is lower than expected as a result of the renegotiation of agreements with the international carriers. The impact of the readjustment of the financial markets, the aid policies and the 1% downturn in traditional business have led the company to approve a set of measures aimed at containing expenditure, a move which has resulted in a reduction of 5.7 million euros. The year is finally closing with a positive result totalling 17.1 million euros, a figure 3.3 million euros below that of the budget.
Andorra Telecom’s management, organisation, processes and commitment to the customer and the country have been acknowledged by the Ibero-American Foundation for Quality Management. The company’s initial participation in the Award for Excellence in Business Management in Ibero-American countries has been rewarded by a silver medal. The award, attached to the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, will be presented in April 2021 within the framework of the Business Meeting held in parallel to the Meeting of Heads of State and Government in Andorra, an event which had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
The improvements and developments of products and services witnessed in recent years have continued in 2020 with the new prepaid telephone service, which offers users more affordable prices, more features and greater ease of management. The most important innovation is the launch of the first monthly subscription scheme with automated prepayments each month. The review of the mobile phone rates also means a qualitative leap, as it multiplies the data volume by two to five times. The excellent commercial performance of 700 Mbps Internet access and the Wi-Fi Total solution, which guarantees Wi-Fi coverage in homes and establishments, demonstrates the value users attach to improvements in connectivity.
The initiatives geared towards public responsibility haven’t been limited to COVID-19. Andorra Telecom has provided a one-off multi-year loan of 4.5 million euros to finance the Andorran Digital Transformation Programme (PdTDA) promoted by the Government through the Actua Tech Foundation. The plan, lasting two and a half years, will transform the administration’s model for its relationship with citizens and companies, promote the digitalisation of the private sector and enable the country to position itself in this area internationally.
In the same spirit, the internal digital transformation programme launched in 2019 continued during 2020 with a series of internal and external projects covering areas such as the relationship with customers via digital channels, document management and the digitalisation of working environments and business processes.