MegaFon CEO calls it a day, again

The boss of Russia’s second-largest MNO has decided to hand over the reins once more, having previously done so six years ago.

Sergey Soldatenkov started his current tenure as CEO of MegaFon in 2016 after Ivan Tavrin resigned in order to pursue other interests. This marked the reversal of the move four year earlier in which Tavarin stepped in as CEO, with Soldatenkov moving up to the Chairman position. The fact that he had to move back into the CEO office suggests Tavarin’s departure may have been somewhat sudden.

Soldatenkov’s second tenure as CEO was expected to last three years but that too has been cut short with MegaFon Executive Director Gevork Vermishian stepping up to the plate. There is no mention of Soldatenkov returning to the Chairman role so it looks like he’s just decided to call it a day at MegaFon.

“I have decided that the time has come to hand the reins to Gevork,” said Soldatenkov. “I have been involved with the company since its creation, almost 20 years ago. Throughout this time we have been at the forefront of innovation.

“However, we have been conscious for a long time of the need for a management succession plan. With this in mind, we asked Gevork to take on the role of Executive Director last October, with a view to having me focus on strategy and government relations and having Gevork take on operational issues. In this way it was possible to gradually transition responsibilities to Gevork, and I believe that he is now ready to take over my responsibilities as well and assume full control of the management of the Company.

“I want to thank Sergey Vladimirovich for his huge contribution to the company over the years,” said Ivan Streshinsky, CEO of holding company USM Management. “He is a unique person – he has spent his entire career in telecoms, and as a result he understands the sector better than anyone else. Our decision in 2016 to ask him to return to the position of CEO clearly paid off handsomely.”

MegaFon has 29% of Russian mobile subscribers according to Ovum’s WCIS, just behind MTS with 30% or so.

MegaFon and NEC claim network automation victory

MegaFon and NEC have announced the completion of a live field-test to incorporate AI technology into the Russian network to improve the efficiency of planning and maintenance of transport network resources.

The tests took place in MegaFon Ural’s network from October to November, with the NEC AI algorithms analysing 150 radio links which were considered the most critical to the network. The test itself was considered a successful with the telco seeing benefits for both the demand forecast and predictive maintenance objectives.

“Our partnership with NEC aligns with our goals of efficiently improving the planning and maintenance of networks, which is becoming increasingly complex,” said Anton Sherbakov, Technical Director for MegaFon Ural. “Through analytics of big volumes of data with NEC’s AI technologies, ‘NEC the WISE’, we have verified that significant improvements can be achieved for the planning and operation of transport networks, resulting in more effective use of resources and providing the highest quality services to millions of subscribers.”

“We are very pleased to see our services streamline and optimize MegaFon’s network without the need to expend additional resources,” said Hiroshi Kawada, MD of NEC Neva

Communications Systems. “We aim to enhance our partnership with MegaFon and to continue delivering the latest innovations to the entire operator network.”

Looking at the demand forecast side of the test, the pair claim the AI component was 97% accurate when it came to traffic prediction against actual traffic. Predictive maintenance is a bit more difficult to justify on the spreadsheets, if the algorithm is accurate the negative instance never actually happens, but both seem happy with the results.

‘NEC the WISE’ is a product line up which was announced back in 2016 but now with the current euphoria surrounding AI, it seems to be making some useful headlines for NEC. While those who are stoking the 5G fire seem to be focusing on generating new revenue channels for the telcos, this product line has been billed for efficiency. This portfolio has been in the works for the last couple of years, but is now being pitched to clients, but NEC has also stated it plans to deliver a fully automated network operation solution by 2020.

Whether a fully autonomous network is achievable by 2020 remains to be seen, but the normalization of more optimized networks might be more accurate.