Albania’s small telecom market has experienced some significant changes in recent years. Following its acquisition of the ISP ABCom, Vodafone Albania in early 2021 committed to invest €100 million to upgrade its fixed-line infrastructure. This investment will largely support broadband services, and is sympathetic to the government’s efforts to improve broadband availability and access conditions nationally.
The country is consistent with developments elsewhere in the region in that fixed-line telephony use and penetration is declining as subscribers migrate to mobile solutions. The mobile sector is well provided with LTE networks, while operators have invested in 5G, with Ericsson as one of the principal vendors. Some of these efforts have been made in conjunction with neighbouring Kosovo, with the intention of a seamless 5G corridor along the highway connecting the two countries.
The country has long sought accession to the European Union (EU) which has benefited its telecoms sector through closer scrutiny of its regulatory regime and through the injection of funding to help modernise infrastructure. Albania signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, which came into force in mid-2009. As part of the EU pre-accession process, Albania has received financial aid to build public institutions and improve cross-border co-operation under the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance funding mechanism. Albania has been recognised as a candidate country for accession to the EU since June 2014.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.
Vodafone Albania, Albtelecom (Eagle Mobile), Telekom Albania (AMC), Cosmote, Turk Telecom, Primo Communications.
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