3 Dec 2013
Slovenian-backed Kosovar telecoms group IPKO has announced the commercial availability of 3G high speed mobile services from 1 December 2013, as per its previously promised schedule, claiming a first in Kosovo. From launch IPKO’s W-CDMA/HSPA network covers 80% of the Kosovar population and 43.7% of the country’s territory, initially focusing on major cities and towns, while its plan for 2014 is to expand 3G coverage to 75% of territory and 88% of the population. Robert Erzin, executive director of IPKO, declared triumphantly: ‘The wait for 3G came to an end. IPKO will bring the fastest mobile Internet in Kosovo, and with this, IPKO will remove Kosovo from the world map of countries which still rely on 2G networks.’
Expecting a ‘surge’ of 3G adoption from the first day of launch, IPKO will automatically upgrade users’ existing mobile internet packages from 2G to 3G. ‘Therefore, all that our users of smart mobile devices need to do is to activate 3G network in their mobile phones or tablets, and begin using the overwhelming speed offered by 3G, from their existing mobile internet packages,’ Mr Erzin added. 3G mobile internet packages for pre-paid users start from EUR1.95 (USD2.63), while new IPKO customers will get 100MB of 3G internet for free with their SIM card. Entry post-paid 3G package ‘MINI’ provides 300MB for EUR1.95 per month; 500MB ‘MIDI’ packages cost EUR3.95 per month, while ‘MAXI’ packages offer 1GB of 3G internet for EUR4.95 per month. All mobile internet packages also include 5GB free Wi-Fi downloads, with the operator noting its ‘3.75G’ network has been set up specifically to handle Wi-Fi/3G offload convergence.
TeleGeography notes that Kosovo’s telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Post and Electronic Communications (ARKEP) set the date of 1 December 2013 to convert wireless concessions to technology-neutral, enabling cellcos to use their existing frequencies to provide mobile broadband on any platform such as UMTS, WiMAX and Long Term Evolution (LTE). IPKO, a subsidiary of Telekom Slovenije, subsequently declared it would launch 3G as soon as this date arrived.