Considerable network investment has been undertaken in Serbia by incumbent and alternative operators in recent years, despite economic difficulties. This has helped to stimulate internet usage, which has also been bolstered by improved affordability as prices are reduced through competition. The pandemic has stimulated consumer take up of services, particularly mobile data. The government’s various initiatives to improve rural broadband availability have also been supported by European development loans.
Serbia’s high mobile penetration, partly the result of multiple SIM card use, has seen lower revenue in recent years, placing further pressure on operators to develop business models which encourage consumer use of mobile data services as also the continued substitution of fixed-line for mobile voice calls.
In early 2021 Telekom Srbija agreed to provide Telenor Serbia with access to its fibre network. Despite accusations from United Group, which owns the principal cable broadband player SBB, that the deal could undermine SBB’s market position, the Group has also agreed to share network assets. This could lead to a significant shift in the telecom market landscape.
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.
Mobilna Telefonija Srbija (MTS), Telekom Srbija, Vip Mobile, Telenor Serbia, Serbia Broadband (SBB), I.KOM, Knight Development Support, Invest-Inženjering, Beogrid, JET TV, Kopernikus Technology, BeotelNet, Sat Trakt, Telemark and Radijus vektor.
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