Silknet – the country’s largest fixed network provider offering households and businesses the full range of telecommunication services, such as mobile services, fixed broadband, Pay TV and fixed telephony. Silknet is rated B1/Stable by Moody’s and B+/Stable by Fitch Ratings. In 2019 company issued its debut USD 200 million Eurobonds during the year, proudly making history as the first pure corporate (non-financial institution and non-sovereign related) issuance from the country and reaching a high-quality, diversified investor base. As a result of dual listing, Silknet’s Eurobonds are now listed on the Irish and the Georgian Stock Exchanges.
With over two million subscriber base and more than two thousand employees, Silknet is Georgia’s one of the largest employers and tax payers. As internet became the main source of our today’s life during pandemic, Silknet’s mission as internet provider became even more crucial, than ever.
Here is the story of the company’s past months of how the latter managed to cope with the world’s new reality.
Silknet at a closer glance - this is what we learned: Silknet gave its biggest focus on fixed and mobile internet networks. Over the past months of world pandemic, the usage of Silknet’s fixed internet in raised by 30%. Even higher is the demand on mobile internet, being increased by 215%. Under such unprecedented increase company was challenged by important mission – to provide people with undelayd internet. Working for this mission was the top priority. Worth mentioning, that Silknet had taken unprecedented investments during the past two years in mobile network. By the time the world faced pandemic and people got so heavily dependent on internet, company had flawless mobile network having introduced the fastest 4.5G across Georgia and even 7 times faster gigabit LTE in Tbilisi. Nevertheless, Silknet continued its plans for further modernization of the network. Realizing how crucial telco sector is for fighting against COVID 19, Silknet has never stopped works for network monitoring and optimization both in mobile and fixed. Company never even stopped installation services. Silknet’s installation groups were fully equipped with prevention outfit and measures, as they went even to quarantine zones. The reason the company took the decision to continue installations was, that they saw clear need of communication services for people during lockdown.
The very first action at the early stage of the virus spread, was a quick decision to ensure the safety of employees people. Silknet employs over two thousand people and they are located in number of premises in Tbilisi and across Georgia. As it would get unsafe to have people stay together in one space, an instant measure was made y the company to shift to the distant working mode, no matter what would be the resources and efforts for organizing this. There is a clear message from company - people are most important asset for Silknet and their safety is of utmost priority for the management in any crisis situation. In less than one week all company staff went to distant mode of work from their homes. All necessary urgent acquisitions of additional tools and IT technology was provided for complex projects in order to keep the processes ongoing while keeping employees working from their homes. These instant measures gave company the opportunity to keep the pulse and continue business without any delay.
The big team of Silknet’s, its each and every employee has always worked hard in order to provide customers with telco services and especially now they are working 24/7 during pandemic. Owing to management’s quick decision making and the enormous efforts company could sustain the business so that no single project was stopped or postponed. One of such big projects was Euronews Georgia, the Georgian branch of Europe’s number one independent news channel, Euronews. Silknet, as the partner of Euronews, had given the promise to launch Euronews Georgia in May and this promise was given long before anyone could imagine, that the world would face the totally new reality. Despite situation like this, Silknet managed to launch Euronews Georgia in May, as it was planned.
Another step made at the initial stages of the virus spread, was extreme measures by closing service points all over Georgia, except Airports, which later were also closed for the safety of company employees and customers. After this, Silknet fully switched to remote service provision, for which company actually got ready from the first day of planning the distant operations.
It has to be pointed out, that the urgent procurement of all prevention resources were also the first priority in order to equip all company premises and sales offices with preventive measures to protect customers coming to offices, as well as employees.
Speaking of services, after lockdown of all offices, Silknet have given the priority to communicating all existing online services. Everything was done in order to substitute the physical need of going out in order to get the services. Practically all Silknet’s services, became accessible online and through call center.
Another important focus Silknet made during the pandemic was to work on ways of adapting to the new reality – help people get as easy access to internet, mobile and TV services as possible. For this company created new offers, which enabled its customers receive packages even when their services were inactive due to outstanding subscription fee, so they can still use Silknet services by renewing daily or weekly access. For distant learning company offered Silk School, the service which contains whole school program through video lectures. This product was created years ago with the involvement of company’s founders, the ministry of education and the experts. Especially for the online school mode, Silknet enabled different portals of Silk School and made it accessible for everyone by removing the need of registration.
Telecommunications is one of the crucial sectors during any crisis. Telco sector has been closely cooperating with government making the joint efforts for providing people with communion. At every stage of fighting against virus, government’s regulations were directed to promoting operations of telco companies. In fact, telecommunication sector had no restrictions in operations, no doubt, that the sector has to run without any delay and that’s what we are up to till now. Silknet in cooperation with the government continued working in 24/7 mode.
Silknet was one of the first companies, who contributed to the StopCov fund created by the government for fighting against virus. Company contributed 2 million Lari to the fund. Financial resources was only one part of the contribution from Silknet. Apart from monetary means company had made series of actions in order to mitigate the impact of virus and the work of medical institutions. For this Silknet made all hot lines free of charge for the National Center of Diseases, as well as Red Cross, increased internet speed in quarantine zones and some educational institutions. Company continues searching for other opportunities where it can contribute with its resources and services.
Performing 24/7 continues at Silknet and future looks clear – going ahead with full speed and motivation to be at the customers’ service delivering them flawless fixed, TV and mobile services.