Fibre infrastructure gaining traction in Montenegro

Since independence in 2006 Montenegro has continued its quest to join the EU, signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement which oversees closer integration with the EU and covers commitments to political, economic, trade, or human rights reform in exchange for tariff-free access to some or all EU markets, financial or technical assistance. As part of the EU pre-accession process, the country has received financial aid to build public institutions and improve cross-border co-operation under EU funding mechanism Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance.

Closer integration with the EU coincided with a period of strong economic growth, with foreign direct investment focused on the construction and finance sectors. However, the ongoing regional financial crisis has significantly impacted Montenegro due to the contraction in the real estate sector and lower demand for exports. Real GDP contracted in 2009 by 5.7%, and though it recovered to show 2.5% growth in both 2010 and 2011 continuing difficulties affecting some of its main trading partners may result in growth of only 0.2% for 2012.

The telecoms industry has not escaped the effects of the financial turmoil, though given that many telecom services as considered essential to most people the sector these difficulties more robustly than others such as construction and retail.

Montenegro’s liberalised telecom sector has been guided by legislation which adopts the regulatory principles found in the EU’s regulatory framework for communications. This was updated in 2010 with the revised regulatory framework.

Fixed broadband services are available via a variety of technology platforms including DSL, cable, leased line and wireless. The fibre sector has shown particularly strong growth since 2010 as the incumbent has invested in infrastructure upgrades, albeit mainly to serve apartment blocks in the main towns. DSL is also strong given the legacy reach of the incumbent’s copper network, coupled with its existing market presence and range of service offerings that include broadband TV.

Mobile penetration is among the highest in Europe, though this is partly due to the significant number of tourists visiting the country seasonally, as also the preponderance of popular prepaid cards WCDMA/HSPA networks have been launched, which has formed the basis for new mobile broadband services.

Montenegro – Key telecom parameters – 2010; 2012

Sector

2010

2012 (e)

Subscribers:
Broadband

68,000

84,000

Mobile

1,237,000

1,110,000

Fixed-line telephony

170,000

169,000

Penetration of services
Broadband

16%

21%

SIM penetration (population)

199%

178%

Fixed-line telephony 25% 24%

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

Market highlights:

  • Fixed broadband uptake continues to grow due to improving affordability despite adverse economic conditions. Supporting growth is high levels of PC usage for the region.
  • The transition to digital terrestrial TV is underway, with a tender awarded during 2010 to design the transmission network ahead of analogue switch off by 2013.
  • A mid-2012 law taxing SIM cards €1 per month may slow the growth in the popular prepaid sector, which accounts for about 38% of all mobile subscribers.
  • The number of fibred premises more than doubled in 2012, marking operators’ willingness in investing in next-generation services and infrastructure.
  • Both fixed-line and mobile infrastructure sharing has been encouraged by the regulator to save unnecessary network construction costs. Prices for LLU and shared access to the incumbent’s fixed network were set in mid-2012.
  • Despite roaming tariff reductions introduced within the EU in mid-2012, MNOs in Montenegro still charge significantly higher rates for calls and SMS services.
  • In 2012 a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry began hearing evidence from officials regarding corruption during the 2005 the privatisation of Telekom Montenegro.
  • Telenor and T-Mobile Montenegro have begun trials of LTE, with the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands available.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Montenegro – Telecoms IP Networks Digital Media and Forecasts

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