Updated: August 2013
Telenor Serbia became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telenor on 31 August 2006 through the acquisition of Mobi 63 d.o.o. Telenor Serbia offers advanced voice and non-voice services to subscribers on both a prepaid and contract basis. Non-voice services include SMS, MMS, mobile content services and Internet service. As at 31 March 2013, Telenor Serbia had a total of 3.2 million mobile subscriptions. As at 31 March 2013, the mobile penetration (SIM cards) and number of inhabitants in Serbia were 128% and 7.1 million, respectively.
Network and licences
Telenor Serbia currently holds 10-year licences for GSM 900 MHz/1800 MHz and 3G which commenced on 31 August 2006, and are renewable for a successive 10 year period on application. In January 2010, Telenor Serbia acquired a licence for public fixed-line telecommunications networks and services. The licence was issued for 10 years, with a possibility of extending the licence validity period for another 10 years (until 2030).
In addition to Telenor Serbia, there are two other mobile operators in Serbia: Mobile Telephony of Serbia (MTS), which is wholly-owned by the incumbent telecom operator Telekom Serbia, and VIP mobile, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mobilkom Austria. Both MTS and VIP mobile hold GSM and UMTS licences. Telenor Serbia estimates that it had a market share of approximately 35.6% as at 31 March 2013. As at 31 March 2013, the market leader, MTS, had an estimated market share of 43.3% and VIP mobile had a market share of 21.1%. SBB has sent a request to the Republic Agency for Telecommunication (RATEL) for registration as a MVNO within the VIP mobile network, but this request is still pending whilst RATEL obtains governmental approvals. In addition, Telekom Serbia and Media Works (a member of Greenhouse Telecommunications Holding) acquired a CDMA 450 (FWA) licence in May 2009.
In regard to market regulation, in 2011 RATEL designated Telenor as a SMP operator in the market for termination in mobile networks. At RATEL’s request, Telenor Serbia submitted a reference interconnection offer whereby set up fees in an amount of 0.29 Serbian Dinars were abolished and a symmetrical approach to MTRs for all three mobile operators was maintained. In July 2012, RATEL made a proposal for MTR regulation, suggested a glidepath for the period up to 1 January 2015. Telekom Serbia and Telenor objected to this proposal, whilst VIP mobile supported it. In November 2012 RATEL withdrew its proposal, stating that price regulation will take its place during 2013 for the period 2014/2015.
In October 2012, the Serbian government adopted a Frequency Allocation Plan (FAP) that introduces technology neutrality and new frequency bands for mobile services. Technology neutrality remains to be implemented, since due to RATEL’s interpretation of licence obligations mobile network operators (MNOs) are still not given the right to use technology neutrality in accordance with the FAP and the Law on Electronic Communications.
Due to interference caused by digital enhanced cordless telecommunication handsets within the 2100 MHz band, Telenor Serbia requested from RATEL a move to the upper intereference-free 2011 MHz band. Such request was supported by the Telecom Ministry, but is opposed by RATEL.
RATEL has sent a request to all MNOs for information regarding future network developments, introduction of new technologies and services and expressions of interest for participation in a possible auction for additional spectrum in the 900/1800/2100 MHz bands. This request is the first step in the preparation of relevant by-laws for the spectrum auction process, for which Telenor Serbia will also begin a spectrum valuation process.
The introduction of fixed number portability (FNP) was postponed since Telekom Serbia’s network was not prepared for this process. Telenor Serbia and SBB opposed this postponement, but RATEL and the Telekom Ministry supported postponement and a phased approach to FNP implementation starting from October 2013, ending in April 2014.
Mobile number portability (MNP) was introduced in Serbia as of 1 July 2011. Since the general terms and conditions of all three operators were not aligned, this left scope for placing Telenor Serbia and VIP mobile in a worse competitive position within the MNP process. Telekom Serbia remains reluctant to introduce necessary technology upgrades.