INTERVIEW | Harald Rösch: Giving customers the best experience possible

“I can’t predict the future but what I will say is that Melita is on an exciting journey,” Melita Limited CEO Harald Rösch tells BusinessToday. He talks of the company’s significant investment in Malta, the onset of 5G and the Internet of Things, and how Melita plans to continue to play an exponentially increasing role in people’s lives


Melita offers extensive services to businesses. Which is your bigger customer base: residential or commercial? How are you supporting businesses in Malta? Have you stepped up this support during the Covid-19 pandemic, when many businesses are suffering severe losses?

When Melita launched in 1992 it was very much focused on the residential market and today, in fact, we are present in around 75 per cent of homes across Malta and Gozo. The company also began offering services to business customers more than 20 years ago and Melita Business now caters for the needs of hundreds of companies from sole traders to multinationals.

Of course, 2020 has been a very challenging year for many of these clients; the connectivity we provide became even more critical for our customers in March, as the switch to remote working created a 70 per cent increase in internet traffic.  Our foremost priority was to ensure our network could cope with this unforeseen surge in demand, keeping our customers online and in communication.  We supported all our clients at this time, being flexible in creating solutions, providing advice and, where needed, quickly adapting private networks to the new situation.

The Internet of Things is gaining more momentum and public awareness. How does Melita allow its customers to harness the full potential and benefits of IoT?

Melita’s business is all about connectivity and I am very comfortable saying that we are a leading innovator in IoT in Europe. We are the only operator in Europe to offer nationwide IoT services on 3G, 4G and NB-IoT (Narrow Band IoT). NB-IoT is a particularly interesting technology which reaches deep underground enabling us to connect sensors in locations such as the lowest levels of underground car parks – with applications such as monitoring empty car parking spaces or full rat traps! These NB-IoT sensors have a battery life of up to 10 years, so once installed thanks to the reliability of our network, the information from the sensor will keep flowing with minimal human intervention.

We have made access to IoT services straightforward for our customers in Malta and across Europe. Through the launch of in September 2019, we have created a platform which gives our customers the ability to choose from a range of products ensuring flexible commitment as well as an online portal allowing customers to manage their IoT operations securely.

In addition to our services in Malta, we recently launched m.iot in Germany. m.iot is a key component of our strategy to make a great Maltese brand a key player in this segment at international level.

Beyond connectivity, together with partners we are also offering entire solutions for specific IoT applications.  This summer Melita became shareholders of HandsOn, a leading Maltese company in the IoT space, which provides IoT solutions for tracking of vehicles and goods.

What business offerings make Melita stand above its competition when it comes to services offered to the business community?

The IoT capabilities which we just discussed are unique, even on a European level. But, of course, there is much more that Melita Business has to offer. For a start, we are the only company in Malta to have a purpose-built data centre in a strategically secure location which is also ISO27001 certified. This data centre offers a solution for every business from a simple rack to a complete range of colocation services. In terms of keeping Malta’s businesses running, we provide fully redundant international connectivity.

Another service which sets Melita Business apart is our capability to offer a fibre connection to businesses nationwide. To make such connectivity even more readily available we are installing ready-to-go fibre connections in new build business centres - such as Quad Towers. We have further strengthened our offering in the business sector through the acquisition of Ozone which has enabled us to offer value-added voice services such as Cloud PBX and hardware services including Wifi and in-house video systems, which are particularly relevant for the hotel sector.

Melita has already installed the 5G network infrastructure across Malta and is currently undergoing testing in certain areas. What is the reason for the testing and what are the results showing thus far?

As you rightly point out, Melita has indeed already installed a 5G ready network across Malta and Gozo. This project began in 2018 when we partnered with Ericsson, a renowned Swedish multinational. The roll-out was completed in 2019 and our customers have since been enjoying the benefits of this state-of-the-art network on 4.5G. As 5G devices start to become available, Melita decided that the time was right to test how this Ericsson network performs in the Maltese context on 5G. For this limited test we are using wireless frequencies which have been in use in Malta for many years. The results so far show that technically the network can transmit on 5G with a very negligible effect on emissions which remain at less than 1 per cent of the international guideline levels issued by ICNIRP, a WHO-endorsed body. The results of the ongoing 5G test are constantly updated and viewable at

With the launch this month of the iPhone 12 with 5G capability and other providers to follow, when do you envision Melita will be in a position to start offering 5G connectivity in Malta?

Melita’s 5G trial is just the first step but a decision on when we can start offering 5G services commercially is still a little way off. To begin with, the Maltese regulator still needs to assign frequencies for 5G. Obviously, customer demand for 5G services, which we expect will grow as more 5G enabled devices become available will play an important role in our decision on when to launch 5G in Malta.

Melita offers a diverse package to residential users: mobile telephony, internet, tv. Which is the most lucrative? Which is the biggest priority for the company?

Our focus in recent years has been on investing in our infrastructure for both mobile and fixed services. Our 5G ready Ericsson network is the most advanced mobile network in Malta offering greater speeds and reliability. The strength of this network has had an undeniably positive impact on our mobile business with customer numbers and market share growing consistently. Melita, in fact, now has more than 150,000 mobile subscribers. Our investments in the fixed network also make Melita the only operator able to deliver gigabit internet nationwide, helping us to maintain our market leading position in this segment. In the end all our services depend on the strength of our infrastructure and Melita is committed to providing its customers with the best possible networks at the best possible value.

Malta is a small market, so how do the media offerings available in Malta compare to those available in larger markets abroad?

When it comes to sports coverage, Malta has the best offering in Europe. In no other country can you watch Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga, Champions League and Europa League football, Formula One, Six Nations Rugby, the world’s top golf and tennis tournaments – and more - for just €5 per month. Melita is also improving the overall experience for our TV customers through NexTV which provides customers with access to a large range of Maltese and international channels that may be enjoyed via TV, App or web browser at the same time.

In many surveys, customers often complain about the customer service offered by communications companies in Malta. What is Melita doing to offer its customer a better customer care experience, whether residential or business?

Customer service in both the residential and business segments is something that I have personally given a lot of attention to, making it my number one priority when I arrived in 2016. Over the last four years we’ve invested heavily in our systems and our people and made considerable progress. Our business customers now have a designated contact person with industry expertise.   When a business client contacts us for support, one person will deal with the query until it is resolved, which results in a much better experience for our clients. We’ve introduced strict Service Level Agreements (SLAs) into our contracts which guarantee response times according to our customers’ particular situations.

For our residential customers, back in 2016 we introduced Customer Service Promises on the areas which our customers felt were most important: installations, repairs, internet speed and having problems dealt with quickly and efficiently.

These include guaranteeing the internet speed a customer is subscribed to, when connected directly to our modem via a wired connection,  a commitment to carry out installations within two working days, and offering customers the ability to choose a 2-hour slot within which our technicians will visit their property to carry out repairs. These are commitments which are hard to find internationally.

As part of our efforts we monitor satisfaction among residential customers on an ongoing basis using international third-party methodology. The data we have, shows not only that customer satisfaction has been improving consistently over recent years but that Melita is now doing extremely well on international benchmarks.

We’re particularly proud that we were able to maintain these high levels of customer satisfaction from March this year, when the vast majority of our employees had to suddenly switch to remote working.

What innovations are in the pipeline that customers can expect in the immediate future?

Well, apart from the developments in 5G and IoT which are significant innovations that should play a vital role in Malta’s ongoing economic development, our overall vision remains to give individuals and businesses the best communication products that would match any you could find across Europe in terms of both price and performance.

Where do you see Melita in the next five years? And in the next 10 years?

I can’t predict the future but what I will say is that Melita is on an exciting journey. We have made significant investments in Malta to ensure we are well positioned for a future where technology and connectivity continue to play an exponentially increasing role in our lives.

We’ve also positioned ourselves for growth, particularly internationally, through m.iot in Germany and, also, Melita Italia which provides high speed internet services across Italy.

In terms of our shareholders, Melita benefits from being part of the EQT Partners portfolio of investments which is renowned for being purpose-driven and committed to future-proofing the companies in which it invests.

For Melita this means that, apart from a positive commercial outlook, we are able to dedicate substantial resources towards being an active corporate citizen.

The Melita Foundation, launched earlier this year with funding of €500,000, has already begun supporting a number of initiatives to promote digital skills and the conservation of Malta’s heritage and environment.

We are also working hard to achieve our ambition of becoming a carbon neutral company by 2023.

Finally, I would add that we have a great team who are committed to providing all our customers with the best experience possible. Never has this been clearer to me than during the past few months and I am very thankful for all their efforts.

Therefore, while there is always room for improvement, I think Melita is in good shape and set to continue going from strength to strength in the years ahead.

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