Turkcell’s CEO revealed digital services and e-commerce will form the core of the operator’s growth strategy in the near-term as it looks to maintain an upswing in sales recorded in the opening nine months of 2017.

Kaan Terzioglu (pictured) predicted the operator could double its user numbers in the next two to three years by expanding on its current range of e-commerce, messaging, and music and video streaming services, Reuters reported. Turkcell is developing plans to grow digital services as part of a new corporate strategy, the news agency added.

Terzioglu believes digital services will also double data consumption by Turkcell subscribers. However, this growth in data usage will depend, to an extent, on increasing the number of smartphones the operator’s customers have access to: Reuters noted a mismatch between the number of users with access to Turkcell’s 4.5G network (80 per cent) and those with compatible smartphones (50 per cent).

Turkcell’s Q3 2017 earnings report showed 4.5G subscribers consumed an average of 6GB of data, an increase of 40 per cent on the comparable 2016 period. The operator ended the recent quarter with 37.2 million subscribers (up 7 per cent year-on-year), and Turkcell Turkey delivered a 23.5 per cent increase in revenue to TRY4.04 billion ($1.02 billion).

In the nine months to end-September, revenue at the business increased 23.9 per cent year-on-year to TRY11.4 billion.

Ownership squabble
The CEO made no mention of a legal case against South Africa-based MTN Group relating to the award of an operating licence in Iran a decade ago. MTN in October sought to have the $4.2 billion lawsuit dismissed, describing the action as “without merit”.

Reuters noted Turkcell’s business had been hindered by a battle between shareholders Cukurova, Alfa Telecom and Telia Company. The news outlet stated Alfa Telecom recently mooted a buyout of Cukurova’s holding.

In September, Telia sold 7 per cent of its Turkcell stake to institutional investors, reducing its overall holding to 24 per cent (owned through a stake in Turkcell Holding).