The Macedonia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband report includes all BuddeComm research data and analysis on this country. Covering trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, internet, broadband, infrastructure and regulation.
Defined as a lower middle-income country by the World Bank, Macedonia possesses a services dominated economy, which represents approximately 60% of GDP. Like many of its neighbours, it has been hit hard by the global financial crisis due to lack of demand for exports and a drop off in foreign direct investment, in turn softening domestic consumption and putting pressure on fiscal accounts. Economic growth is expected to remain flat during 2009 although medium term prospects have been rated as good by the International Monetary Fund due to continued macroeconomic stability and ongoing structural reforms.
Much of the structural reforms have been due to its bid to join the EU, which is progressing as noted by its status as an official EU candidate. As part of the EU pre-accession process, Macedonia has received financial aid to build public institutions and improve cross-border co-operation under EU funding mechanism Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). Under the IPA, Macedonia is expected to receive 81.8 million during 2009, 92.3 million during 2010, 98.7 million during 2011 and 105.8 million during 2012.
EU structural reforms have found their way into the communications industry, with the EU’s regulatory framework for communications transposed into national law, with the aim of establishing a fair and competitive communications market. The telecoms market has been liberalised and recent regulatory developments in the area of network access is improving prospects for competition, as evident by increasing uptake of wholesale offers.
Internet user and subscriber penetration is growing with a shift to broadband evident as it now represents the majority of Internet subscriptions. Improving Internet speeds has paved the way for new Internet based services such as broadband TV (IPTV) and fostering development of an Internet society. TV programming is accessible via cable, FTA and IPTV and the digital TV market is emerging due to introduction of IPTV and developments in the DTTV market during 2009.
Three mobile network operators serve Macedonia’s mobile market, with competition increasing following the relatively recent launch of services by the third operator and introduction of mobile number portability. The launch of WCDMA/HSDPA networks opens a new revenue opportunity as subscriber levels indicate saturation in the mobile voice market and overall broadband levels in the country are relatively low.
Regulatory developments are opening up the fixed line market, introducing local loop unbundling, naked DSL, line resale, wholesale line rental and number portability. Competing operators have taken up unbundling offers as well as resale and WLR offers. Within six months of introduction several thousand fixed numbers have been ported. However total fixed lines are in decline as end users abandon fixed lines for mobile phones.
Strong broadband growth recorded in recent years will continue due to the significant number of remaining dial-up subscribers. Regulatory developments are improving competition in the wholesale broadband market, with evidence from broadband markets in EU countries indicating a healthy wholesale market is viable.
Digital TV prospects have improved as the incumbent has launched IPTV and a tender to manage DTTV multiplexes was successfully concluded in May 2009. The transition to digital broadcasting is expected to be completed by 2012.
Competition is intensifying in the mobile market as a the newest mobile network operator aggressively chases subscriber growth, an international investor consolidates its presence in Macedonia’s telecom market by acquiring the second largest mobile network operator and the introduction of mobile network portability to reduce barriers for users choosing to take advantage of competitive offerings and switching service providers. The launch of WCDMA/HSPDA networks opens up a new revenue opportunity in mobile broadband offerings.