Montenegro has a small telecom market supported by a population of only 623,000. Fixed broadband services are available via a variety of technology platforms, though fibre is the dominant platform, accounting for almost 40% of connections. The growth of fibre has largely been at the expense of DSL as customers are migrated to fibre networks as these are built out progressively.
Mobile penetration is particularly high, though this is partly due to the significant number of tourists visiting the country seasonally, as also to the popularity of subscribers having multiple prepaid cards. In the wake of the pandemic and associated restrictions on travel, the number of mobile subscribers fell in 2020, as also in the first quarter of 2021, year-on-year. Networks support a vibrant mobile broadband services sector, largely based on LTE. Two of the MNOs began trialling 5G in May 2021, though commercial services will not gain traction until after the multi-spectrum auction is completed at the end of 2021. Spectrum is available in the 694-790MHz and 3400-3800MHz ranges, as well as in the 26.5-27.5GHz range.
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.
Crnogorski Telekom (T-Mobile Montenegro), M:tel, Telenor Montenegro
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David Brown, Ventura Team
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