Macedonia’s third mobile operator Mobilkom (Macedonia), backed by Mobilkom of Austria, says it will launch commercial services ‘in the next few days’. Marketing services under the VIP banner, the newcomer says it has already invested EUR10 million (USD13 million) for its licence, and an additional EUR50 million on network infrastructure. The company’s executive director Mladen Pejkovic said the firm hopes to provide full coverage of the territory of Macedonia while building up its own infrastructure: in the interim six-month period it will provide national roaming through a deal signed with T-Mobile’s local unit. VIP has promised to deliver lower prices than those offered by its rivals, but stopped short of providing details.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, in December 2006 Mobilkom was the sole bidder in the government’s auction of a third GSM mobile licence. Its bid was approved two months later. Mobilkom offered EUR10 million for the ten-year (renewable) licence, and under the terms of its licence award must launch within six months of receiving the award. The sector has long been dominated by two players T-Mobile Macedonia (formerly MobiMak), the wireless arm of former national monopoly T-Com Macedonia, which launched its GSM-900 service in October 1996, and OTE-backed Cosmofon, which entered the fray in June 2003. T-Mobile had 955,000 subscribers at the end of March 2007 (a market share of 65.74%), while Cosmofon had 497,637 (34.26%). Despite the claims of the incumbents that the domestic mobile market is now saturated, the government has already announced plans to auction a fourth mobile licence to increase competition still further.