Kosovo and Serbia reach new agreement on country code

16 Nov 2016

Kosovo and Serbia have reached a new agreement, under which the breakaway republic will be allocated its own national dialling code – 383 – by the ITU by 15 December 2016. The new pact was negotiated by the two governments with the EU mediating the process, and is in full compliance with the preceding deals, the Brussels Agreement for Telecom (2013) and the Action Plan agreed in 2015, Kosovo’s Minister for Dialogue Edita Tahiri said in a statement. Under the new deal, Belgrade will issue a notice to the ITU, agreeing to the allocation of the new code, by 3 December. For its part, meanwhile, Kosovo will issue a temporary and limited concession permitting Serbian state-owned telco MTS to provide wireless services via a local subsidiary in Kosovo. The operator will be allocated spectrum to provide services within the areas of Kosovo it already covers with its network: the operator is understood to have unofficially offered mobile services in the north of Kosovo via base stations near the border since 2010, when the Kosovar telecoms regulator removed the cellco’s equipment within the territory of the republic. Further, the concession will limit the number of customers that MTS can sign up to its services. MTS will also be given permission to offer fixed line telephony services, though it was not mentioned whether the same territorial and subscriber limits would apply.

Following the conclusion of the agreement, Kosovo will switch to the new 383 code and remove the three codes currently in use: 381, 377 and 386.

In its statement, the Pristina administration also suggested that its counterpart in Belgrade would cooperate in preventing the illegal provision of mobile services in northern Kosovo by Serbian-licensed companies on the other side of the border. The statement notes that such illegal services will be stopped, although only one of the three companies it claims are participating in the violation will be legitimised by the deal.