Serbian ISP SBB has submitted requests to the Republic Agency for Electronic Communications (Regulatorna agencija za elektronske komunikacije i postanske usluge, RATEL) and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications (Ministarstvo trgovine, turizma i telekomunikacija, MTT), urging the government to hold auctions for 5G spectrum., according to a statement from the operator’s parent, United Group. SBB CEO Milija Zekovic was quoted as saying: ‘SBB believes that the conditions in the country have matured sufficiently to start the auction. The time is right for Serbia to follow its EU neighbours and ensure its 5G future. We must take full advantage of all the opportunities that the development of a digital society means for citizens. The rapid introduction of 5G services is a prerequisite for this.’ The government had initially intended to hold an auction for the spectrum in March 2021, but has delayed the sale until the end of the year due to the pandemic.
As part of its request, SBB submitted a study it had conducted on the matter which it says argues that a multi-band 5G award would inject new competition into the market. The operator claims that the mobile services in Serbia are more expensive and lower quality than those available in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, due to insufficient competition, arguing that providers in Serbia have settled into a ‘cosy status quo’.