Kosovar telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Post and Electronic Communications (Autoriteti Rregullator i Komunikimeve Elektronike dhe Postare, ARKEP) has granted operators an extension to the deadline for switching to the country’s new international dialling code +383 until 15 January 2019, but will begin to impose a EUR10,000 (USD11,385) per month penalty on providers that fail to complete the transition by the new date. Kosovo has historically used a mixture of country codes – including +381 (Serbia), +386 (Slovenia) and +377 (Monaco) – but in November 2016 it was finally allotted its own code by the ITU as part of a wider agreement with Serbia. Implementation of the new code began in Q1 2017 and the process was due to be completed by the end of that year. The switchover has encountered numerous delays, however, most recently in May 2018 the regulator postponed the deadline for implementation until 31 October 2018.
Late September this year saw requests from the country’s main fixed and mobile telephony providers, Kosovo Telecom and IPKO, for a further extension. IPKO told the watchdog that it had ceased terminating international traffic on the +381 code, but was still recording a high proportion of traffic terminating on the +386 code compared to the +383 code, ranging from around 46% (from Switzerland) to more than 99% (Serbia). As such, IPKO stated that ending its use of the +386 code would result in a decrease in revenue, saying that it required the +386 code to remain in use for incoming international calls until 31 December 2019. Similarly, Kosovo Telecom said that it had also stopped use of the +381 code for terminating international traffic, except from Serbia, as those calls are formatted without an international code. The telco added that it has run into obstacles in ending its use of the +377 code, though, claiming that Monaco’s regulator has said that it will not end the use of the +377 code until the +381 code is completely decommissioned and is no longer used for outgoing calls. Telecom Kosovo asked for additional time to comply with the requirement, but did not specify how long it needed.