Publication Date: December 2023
Report Pages: 153
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was renamed as the Republic of North Macedonia in February 2019. The country has been a European Union (EU) candidate since 2005 with accession discussions facing delays over the years. As part of the EU pre-accession process, North Macedonia has built closer economic ties with the Union which accounts for 77.5% of Macedonia’s exports and just over half of its imports. Closer regulatory and administrative ties with European Commission (EC) institutions have done much to develop the telecom sector and prepare the market for the competitive environment encouraged in the EU.
As part of EU integration legislation North Macedonia has implemented the principles of the EU’s regulatory framework for communications, established an independent regulator and set out several provisions to provide for a competitive telecom market, including wholesale access to the incumbent’s fixed-line network. Although the fixed telephony market has been liberalised, the incumbent MakTel continues to dominate the sector. However, broadband services are widely available, with effective competition between DSL and cable platforms complemented by wireless broadband and a developing fibre sector. The number of DSL subscribers has continued to fall in recent years as customers are migrated to fibre networks.
Macedonia’s mobile market is served by only two MNOs, MakTel and A1 Macedonia (known as One.Vip before a rebranding exercise in September 2019). The latter was formed from the merger of the local business units of Telekom Slovenije and Telekom Austria. A1 Macedonia in May 2016 was also merged with its sister company Blizoo, and so has been able to provide a full suite of converged services. Mtel, a subsidiary of Telekom Srbija, has also committed to launch mobile services by the end of 2022, a move which will break the duopoly. The MNOs are increasingly focused on expanding their 5G networks, seeking stronger coverage across North Macedonia’s high value urban areas. Mobile data services are also becoming increasingly important following investments in LTE network rollouts and in upgrades to LTE-A technology.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 had an immediate impact on telecoms services growth. However, the sector has returned to growth buoyed by an improving economic outlook for the country and rising consumer and enterprise demand for advanced communications services. The crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, has helped to offset pressures on market development.
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, and the development of a national ICT strategy among other solutions.
Makedonski Telekom, A1 Macedonia (VIP Operator, One.Vip), Mtel, Blizoo (formerly CableTel), Telekom Slovenije.
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