Kosovar telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Post and Electronic Communications (Autoriteti Rregullator i Komunikimeve Elektronike dhe Postare, ARKEP) has extended the deadline for Telenor Serbia and Mobilkom Serbia (which operates under the VIP brand) to cease offering services in northern areas of Kosovo from 28 February to 1 May 2017, Kosova Press writes. The duo, along with Serbia’s third mobile operator MTS (formerly known as Telekom Srbija), currently offer services in the border regions of Kosovo without licence, but have agreed to end the practice following the signing of an EU-brokered compromise deal between Belgrade and Pristina on telecommunications. Under the agreement, Serbia agreed to lift its objection to Kosovo receiving its own international dialling code, whilst Kosovo would issue a temporary and limited concession permitting state-owned telco MTS to provide wireless services via a local subsidiary in Kosovo.
Responding to letters from ARKEP instructing them to end their operations in Kosovo, which the regulator deemed ‘illegal’, Telenor and VIP sought additional time to ensure that customers would not be inconvenienced by the termination of their services. AKREP acquiesced to their request, granting them until 1 May 2017 to close down.
According to ARKEP President Kreshnik Gashi, the regulator has received MTS’s EUR500,000 (USD553,890) licence fee and has issued the operator with its new concession, although the pair have a three-month period to fine-tune frequency allocations. Under the terms of the authorisation, MTS will offer service in 30 locations in Kosovo, equating to around 10% of the country’s territory.
As previously noted by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Kosovo was allocated its new +383 dialling code in December 2016 and began to use the system in February, though ARKEP noted at the time that it would take around 18 months to completely replace the existing codes – as a stop-gap measure, Kosovo had variously use the international dialling codes of Serbia, Monaco and Slovenia.