2019 ended with excellent financial results and the introduction of various improvements to products and services to improve the customer experience.
The figures for the financial year were better than 2018 and what was forecast. The combination of higher turnover and reduced costs resulted in a bottom line of 24.2 million euros, 1.9% more than the previous year and 25.2% higher than expected.
The difference between the forecast and final revenue should be sought in good business performance, our work to reduce current expenditure and roaming IN, the roaming revenue raised from tourists in Andorra. The negotiating strategy with foreign operators, based on the establishment of flat-rate charges, has softened the drop, which has only been 3.7%. The good results have enabled the amortisation of investments worth 25.8 million euros, 13.7% more than in 2018.
The reduction of personnel costs (-5.7%), repairs and maintenance (-14.5%) have been vital in reducing current expenditure, while the rise in turnover is based on more mobile telephones (+5.5%), Internet and landline telephone use (+1.8%) and connections (+32.2%)
The very positive operating revenue was complemented by the recovery of financial markets and the sale of shares in the Spanish telecommunications operator Avatel. The net revenue was 33.6 million euros, after discounting the 4.5 million transferred to the ActuaTech Foundation to finance the country’s digital transformation programme.
User experience is a priority in our investment policy. We renewed our optical fibre network in 2017, and expanded the network for mobile phones in 2018. In 2019, we are offering optical fibre television. The change of platform, the new decoders and Bluetooth commands make it easier to browse the expanded range of channels with a menu of programmes from the previous week, changes that have been popular among customers. The campaign for renovation started in May and reached nearly all users in only nine months,
The new high-speed internet service has also been welcomed enthusiastically. The update of the internet network made it possible to increase bandwidth and sell packages of 700 Mbps, a new product which has attracted 2,300 customers, 1,300 of whom are residents here.
Another important project is the new Online Charging Systems platform, which gives Andorra Telecom greater flexibility to adapt its mobile phone service to customer needs, set consumption limits or sell new types of pre-paid services.
Other investments are destined to improve coverage and the capacity of the 4G network in the most saturated areas, or to re-route overhead lines underground. The deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) network in the main urban areas using the LoRaWan technology standard offers many new options to businesses and the administration. It is a whole new area, as it enables devices to connect to it and has autonomy for up to ten years.
We are also implementing an adjustment of the frequencies for Terrestrial Digital Television (TDT), one result of the imminent arrival of 5G mobile technology. Our engineers have carried out a gradual change in the country’s eleven relay stations, requiring a minor adjustment of the collective antennae to retune four channels and receive ATV in high-definition.
In 2019 Andorra Telecom embarked on an ambitious project of digital transformation with the aim of preparing the company and its workers for the challenges of the future, and new ways of interacting with users. There were 45 initiatives implemented, some in a single department and others that involved several. The project enables the addition of new options to the company's daily operations, such as big data, smart operations, automation and flexible working methods, aimed at improving efficiency and obtaining a better understanding of customer needs.
In order to measure the results obtained, we have used the digital maturity index developed by TM Forum, an international association that includes the world's leading technology companies. There was an improvement of 25 percentage points in the year it was implemented, with the degree of digital maturity rising from 37 to 62 per cent.
The digital transformation project is linked with public responsibility policies. As part of its objective to be a leading actor in the digitalisation of the country, Andorra Telecom is working with the public and private sector to support transformation projects and the productive sector.
Another of the cross-departmental initiatives is the launch of the new rebranding, emphasising “Andorra Telecom” as a unique name. This project is much more than a simple design change, as it extends to the product catalogue and communications, which aim at creating a closer bond with users.
The main operation towards diversification was the sale of 37% of the company Avatel & Wikiker Telecom, S.L. for 32 million euros. The stake in the company, with a strong presence in Malaga, Alicante and Cadiz, was acquired in November 2017 for 16 million euros. In the two years that Andorra Telecom was a leading shareholder, the operator grew from 22,000 to 100,000 customers and expanded into other regions of Spain.
Diversification is linked to technological support for the companies. The company boosts professional services intended to reinforce the security of information and process automation through the use of robotics. NIU, our business incubator, continues to encourage domestic and international innovations through agreements with Alastria, the main Spanish blockchain consortium, and the Silicon Valley accelerator, ProteumX.
Andorra Telecom continues to back events such as the Business Seminar, Video Game Show, Robotics competitions and the new afterworks sessions. Our cultural and sports sponsorships (Morabanc Andorra, Carmen Thyssen Museum, International ski, trial or mountain bike championships) have expanded with the Espai Columba, a space for the Santa Coloma frescoes, offering the most technologically advanced element with a 20 m2 videowall and interactive screens.