EU mulls suspension of MT’s monopoly

23 Feb 2006

According to reports in local newspaper Dnevnik, officials from the European Union (EU) are conducting an investigation into whether the Macedonian government is fulfilling its obligations for sector liberalisation in the fixed line market. Two EU experts are examining complaints made by would-be alternative operators that the state and the telecoms ministry is illegally protecting Makedonski Telekomunikacii (MT’s) monopoly and deliberately obstructing competition. They have held talks with start-up Nexttel to confirm that despite the fact the market was liberalised on 1 January 2005, the state has not yet provided conditions to allow competitors to launch services. Nexttel and others cannot enter the fixed line market until concession agreements of fixed and mobile operators are synchronised with the new Law on Electronic Communications, adopted in February 2005. The government was required to administer this by December 2005, but by mid-February it had not chosen a consulting firm to oversee the process.

Procrastination is proving a severe obstacle to the likes of ISP On.net and Nexttel, which have unveiled some details of how they plan to enter the market. In November 2005 On.net chose Strix Systems to build-out a nationwide Wi-Fi internet network in 40 municipalities utilising its Access/One wireless broadband equipment, which will make services available to more than 90% of the population. The network is being part-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and was due to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2006. In late-January On.net revised its launch and said it hoped to launch within three months offering prices lower than those of MT. It hopes to provide consumers low cost international calls as well as cheap calls to and from mobile networks. In the second phase, starting September 2006, the newcomer hopes to take advantage of LLU in order to develop the scope of its services. Meanwhile Nexttel, which currently provides international voice calls services only, has submitted a request to launch local and DLD services. It hopes to launch later this year once legal and technical issues have been resolved.

North Macedonia, Makedonski Telekom (Telekom)