Vladimir Nikolikj, head of regulatory affairs and inter-operators relations at Macedonian mobile operator VIP, has told SeeNews that the firm is currently assessing submitting a bid for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) spectrum, providing the government’s terms and conditions are ‘attractive’. Nikolikj went on to say that VIP, part of Telekom Austria Group, is interesting in securing frequencies in the 800MHz band and that, if successful it ‘would have no major problem leveraging its existing network infrastructure to provide services based on LTE technology’. The official is confident that Macedonia will issue its first 4G licences this year and is expecting competition from the two other incumbents, T-Mobile Macedonia and Telekom Slovenije-owned ONE. Macedonia was home to 2.343 million mobile subscribers at 30 September 2012, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, a cellular penetration of 113.8%.
Turning to the broadband market in the country, Mr Nikolikj said that whilst he expects the segment to show a small drop in revenues for FY2012, the rising popularity of high speed mobile internet access should stabilise and grow the sector going forward. ‘Telecoms revenues have been declining at European level for three consecutive years and Macedonia is not immune to this trend. Local telecoms revenues dropped by around 3.0% in 2010 and 2011 and last year’s contraction is seen in the same range,’ he said. ‘In the period ahead, the spread of mobile broadband is expected to offset that trend somewhat and stabilise the annual value of the market at around EUR380 million [USD510.8 million],’ Nikolikj added.