Resimalti: Orhan Bilen.
While the average span of time a German spends making a call is 1.5-2 minutes, Turks spend 4.35 minutes. The size of the ethnic market in Germany's telecom sector particularly came to light after the privatization of German Telecom, which increased the appetite among firms.
THE PRODUCT BECAME A COMPANY
Formed as Penta Net in 1994 by businessman Orhan Bilen, Pentatel Telecom is today the Turkish telecom firm that provides the most employment in Germany and is a leader in the ethnic market. Pentatel provides employment to 100 people and markets its products through the channel of 1600 representative distributors.
When it was first formed, Pentatel concentrated in the areas of hardware, software, and information technology and was responsible for projects aimed at developing networks for firms. With the privatization of German Telecom in 1998, the company switched to another field. It began to provide support in the service area, in addition to providing infrastructure to companies. According to Bilen, “this happened as a direct result of the customers' wants.”
The first telephone cards geared towards the Turkish market were put out by Pentatel in 1998. At the end of the first six months, the products were made into a company and Pentatel, Inc. was formed. Today, providing services for fixed line phone calls within the same city, GlobalTel GmbH, which was founded in 2004 by Bilen, is involved in numerous aspects of telecommunications, ranging from web hosting to Internet services.
Pentatel owns key points in all of Germany's large cities and services its customers through many means, including monthly bills to subscribers, phone cards, call shops, and Internet cafes.
FOURTEEN YEARS HAVE ALREADY PASSED
During the initial heady years of privatization in Germany, there were nearly 1700 domestic and international telecommunications firms, while today that number has dwindled to 170. “We have left 14 years in the IT sector and 10 years in telecom behind. There is no other Turkish firm in this sector that has had so much staying power,” said Bilen. He also states that companies that use the latest technology on fixed lines and place importance on investment will stay strong in the market. He adds that many of the companies in the sector that went under in the past couple of years did so primarily because they outsourced much of their services to other firms. Pentatel and Globaltel, on the other hand, do not receive services from sub-contracting firms.
For domestic calls, Turks take up three percent of the calling population and they take first place among ethnic groups for phone call payments. The unlimited DSL service that GlobalTel markets, however, is not only geared to Turks but also other ethnic minorities, such as the Polish, Russian, Arab, and Balkan communities. Bilen believes that the mobile phone sector will not lead to the disuse of fixed land lines, in fact, he continues to expand. He entered the Turkish market through another partner in the telecom sector in 2003. Bilen wants to expand the services he provides in Germany to Turkey.
A HIGH SCHOOLER, TWICE!
Born in Tokat in 1963, Bilen came to Germany in 1980 with the goal of studying. Although he had already studied high school in Turkey, he attended high school again in Germany in order to learn more about the country and culture. He graduated from both the computer and mechanical engineering departments at the same time. After school he worked at a large engineering firm for five years. He was assigned to projects for a steel factory-producing company named Tysen in the US and Saudi Arabia. His primary goal was to gain enough experience to open his own company. He entered the IT market in 1994 and the telecommunication market in 1998. (October 2007 – Issue 26th)