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Bosnia-Herzegovina - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 23 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 77

Bosnia-Herzegovina aiming for national LTE coverage by 2023

The economic prosperity of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) largely rests with the country’s continuing integration with the European Union (EU). GDP growth has recovered from the slow-down seen in the wake of the GFC in 2008 and 2009, though growth was inconsistent until 2015, since when the economy had grown at above 3% annually. Other than a slight dip in 2017, growth for 2018 was 3.2%. There remain some significant challenges, not least of which is high unemployment which continues to hinder the country’s economic growth potential.

The telecom market has been liberalised and a regulatory framework created based on the EU’s regulatory framework for communications. Although Bosnia-Herzegovina remains an EU candidate country, in July 2017 it applied amended mobile roaming charges to fit in with changes introduced across the Union. Further roaming agreements were made in 2019 with other western Balkan countries

The market is characterised by three zones, each with an incumbent telco. The largest operator BH Telecom is the dominant provider, while Telekom Srpske operates in Republika Srpska and HT Mostar is active in Herzegovina. Together, these three incumbent operators control 99% of the market. All three are subject to specific obligations designed to improve competition.

The fixed-line broadband network is comparatively underdeveloped, with the result that investments made in mobile upgrades by BH Mobile and Telekom Srpske are facilitating broadband connectivity in the country to a greater extent than is common elsewhere in Europe.

Internet services are available through the incumbents and a number of alternative operators. DSL and cable are the main platforms for fixed-line connectivity, while fibre broadband as yet has only a small market presence.

The three mobile network operators (MNOs), each affiliated with one of the incumbent fixed-line operators, provide national coverage. Their upgraded networks are helping to support broadband in rural areas where fixed-line infrastructure is insufficient. In addition, mobile data and mobile broadband offers will provide future revenue growth given the limited potential of mobile voice services. Although the MNOs have tested LTE services under trial licenses since 2013, commercial launches were delayed until the award of spectrum in early 2019. The regulator stipulated that licensees provide national coverage within five years.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having 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.

Key developments:

  • Telekom Srpske completes acquisition of Telrad Net;
  • International roaming among Balkan countries to end by July 2021;
  • Regulator awards LTE licenses to the three MNOs;
  • KKR sells United Group to BC Partners;
  • Telemach extends footprint by using power utility's poles;
  • Fixed-line voice revenue continues to slide as customers migrate to VoIP and mobile services for voice calls;
  • Report update included the regulator's market data to December 2018, telcos' operating and financial data to Q1 2019, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

BH Telecom, HT Mostar, Telekom Sprske, LogoSoft

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