Kosovo’s telecoms watchdog, the Regulatory Authority for Post and Electronic Communications (Autoriteti Rregullator i Komunikimeve Elektronike dhe Postare, ARKEP) has confirmed that Serbian mobile providers Telenor Serbia and Mobilkom Serbia (which operates under the VIP Mobile brand) have deactivated infrastructure that had previously allowed them to offer services illegally in Kosovo, Kosova Press reports, citing a statement from the regulator. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Serbian mobile operators unofficially provided wireless services in Kosovo without a licence via sites in the border regions. As part of an EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia, however, Serbia’s wireless providers agreed last year to cease the practice. Under the deal, Serbian state-owned cellco MTS was handed a limited licence to offer telecoms services in the northern areas of the country, in exchange for which Belgrade cleared the path for Kosovo to receive its own international dialling code. Following the completion of the other elements of the deal, in March this year VIP and Telenor were given until 1 May to close down operations. Last week the pair released a joint statement confirming that they were on track to meet that target, having agreed to continue serving their existing customers via a tie-up with MTS and would remove a total of fifteen base stations near the border.
ARKEP confirmed yesterday that Telenor and VIP’s signals were no longer being detected within Kosovar territory, noting that its radio monitoring team had carried out a series of tests in areas that Telenor and VIP had previously covered, concluding that the duo had discontinued their services. ARKEP went on to encourage Kosovar cellco IPKO and Kosovo Telecom to bolster their networks in the northern regions to improve coverage in those areas.