5G regulation and law in North Macedonia

Information current as of 1 January 2020

What is the state of 5G deployment in the Republic of North Macedonia?

5G is not available in North Macedonia, but its deployment has been announced by the Ministry of Information Society and Administration. The dates for roll out are as follows:

  1. By the end of 2023, 5G signal should be available on the territory of at least one city in North Macedonia.
  2. By the end of 2025, the main corridors, according to the Treaty establishing the Transport Community, should be covered with an uninterrupted 5G signal.
  3. By the end of 2027, all cities in North Macedonia should be covered with uninterrupted 5G signal.
  4. By the end of 2029, everyone should be able to access the internet through 5G with a minimum internet access speed of at least 100 Mbps.
  5. By the end of 2029, at least 50% of the total number of subscriber contracts for households throughout the country should refer to internet access speeds of at least 100 Mbps.
  6. By the end of 2029, all households in the Republic of North Macedonia should have internet access that provides download speeds of at least 100 Mbps with the possibility of upgrading to gigabit speeds at an affordable price.
  7. By the end of 2029, all public institutions (schools, universities, research centres and other state bodies and bodies) should have symmetrical access to the internet at a speed of at least 1Gb/s.

Which telcos and communications players are launching 5G services?

Even though no telcos and communication players have launched 5G services yet the two biggest mobile network operators, Makedonski Telecom and One.Vip, have announced that they will be launching 5G services as of 2020.

Are there any public tenders for spectrum licences?

Yes. On 30 May 2019, the Agency on Electronic Communications (“the Agency”) published a tender for utilisation of the band 1965-1980/2155-2170. The period for submission of the bids was 35 days from the publication of the tender.

What are the conditions?

  1. No conviction in the last five years for participating in a criminal organisation, corruption, fraud or money laundering.
  2. No penalty – temporary or permanent ban for performing business activity.
  3. No ongoing bankruptcy or liquidation procedure.
  4. Duly paid taxes, contributions or other public duties according to the regulations.
  5. No misdemeanour sanction – ban for practising profession, performing activities or duties, or temporary ban for performing an activity.

What has the government said regarding spectrum licences for commercial use?

According to the available media information, the government supports granting new spectrum licenses for commercial use, which would also promote competition among operators. The government has announced that a tender for the utilisation of band 3.4-3.8 GHz will be published as soon as any interested party submits such request. New operators will have certain advantages in the procedure. Currently, the market for broadband networks is highly concentrated – the biggest market players are Makedonski Telecom, with a market share of 40.55% and one, Vip with a market share of 30.11%.

Are the rules for 5G already drafted, and if so, what do they say?

The Ministry of Information Society and Administration has adopted a National Operative Broadband Plan, dated April 2019 (“the NOBP”), which includes a description of the planned deployment of 5G.

According to the NOBP, the above listed targets for deployment of 5G cannot be achieved without public assets, which should be used pursuant to the European competition and state aid regulations. NOBP stipulates that the public assets should be used in a form of a direct investment for building national transportation optic infrastructure/network (“the Network”).

The Public Enterprise Nacionalna Radiodifuzija (“Public Enterprise”) is responsible for providing this state aid (building and managing the Network). The Public Enterprise will grant access to the Network to the operators and it will perform these activities a not-for-profit basis. Free optic fibres of the optic network, which was already built using public assets, will also be used – i.e. the Public Enterprise will be granted permission for using it over a period of 30 years. An analysis of the current state of the built optic network is in progress.

Amendments to the current regulations proposed in the NOBP are include:

  • amendments to the conditions for registering the telecommunication infrastructure in the Real Estate Cadastre under the Law on Real Estate Cadastre.
  • the construction of infrastructure of public interest (telecommunication, electro energetic, gas pipeline, plumbing, etc.) to be regulated in a separate Law on Construction of Infrastructure of Public Interest, or to be put in a separate section in the Building Law.
  • amendments to the Law on Public Roads that will enable the construction of a telecommunication infrastructure in the road areas and protected areas.

What are or would be the rules for granting competitors access to the new 5G networks, once they are deployed?

According to the NOBP, the Public Enterprise will grant access to the Network to operators under transparent and non-discriminatory conditions.

As stated above, new entrants will have certain advantages in a future tender procedure for utilisation of band 3.4-3.8 GHz.

Moreover, the fact that some radiofrequency bands (2 x 10 MHz in 900 MHz and 800 MHz; and 2 x 35 MHz 50 in 2100 MHz) remain unutilised provides the possibility for developing competition in this area. According to the Agency, these free radiofrequency bands are enough to allow the entrance of third operator that can provide 5G services.

The NOBP stipulates some measures that could enhance competition among operators in the area of telecommunications. These include regulation, in particular for the calculation of costs and price control, as well as an incentive for new investments in this area. As a result, the enhanced competition shall lead to decrease in the retail prices and speed up the process for utilization of broadband access.

Picture of Marija Filipovska
Marija Filipovska