CTO of the Year shortlist profile - Turkcell

Features

Mobile Europe will announce its CTO of the Year 2016 on 6 April. In the run up to this week's announcement, we are profiling each of the shortlisted nominees. Today we look at the final contender - Turkcell's Ilker Kuruoz.

On 1 April, Turkcell finally joined the 4G era. After years of waiting, and a somewhat surreal interlude when Turkey's president suggested the country jump straight to 5G, last Friday saw three carrier LTE-Advanced turned on across 81 cities, with speeds peaking at 390MBps.

This wait for 4G did not lead to Turkcell standing still. Under the stewardship of its CTO Ilker Kuruoz, the operator launched a network upgrade last year with Ericsson and Huawei to ensure it could offer LTE from day one.

He ensured the operator could back its LTE bet with a shopping spree in last year's spectrum auction that saw it buy 172MHz of spectrum for €1.6billion.

He is taking a staggered approach to rolling out spectrum with 1800MHz to be followed by 800MHz then 2.6GHz.

While compatible handsets for tri-carrier LTE-A networks are comparatively thin on the ground, Kuruoz has developed the operators own handset strategy with the low-cost T-series of smartphones looking to bridge the gap.

Kuruoz is looking ahead to even faster speeds. Turkcell expects four carrier networks, with speeds of 600MBps, to be launched next year, and has already conducted trials of a five carrier network with Huawei, which offered speeds of 1200MBps.

Turkcell is also already planning for 5G. Kuruoz signed R&D agreements last year with Ericsson, Huawei and Turkish defence industries company ASELSAN.

Outside of Turkey, Kuruoz also led the project in its Ukrainian subsidiary lifecell to launch tri-carrier 3G services in 2015.

Other highlights for the operator include developing the IP-based communication platform BiP, which has more than five million users. Initially starting life as a messaging platform, it now offers voice and video over IP features.

Turkcell also completed a multi-year project, again led by Kuruoz, to update and standardise the customer experience through online, mobile and digital channels.

The CTO of the Year award will be announced on 6 April. Candidates were judged by an independent panel and rated according to operational excellence, innovation, customer experience and impact.

Other shortlisted CTOs include Deutsche Telekom's Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, MTS's Andrei Ushatskiy, Orange Romania's Stefan Slavnicu and Proximus's Geert Standaert.