Tuesday 29 September 2020

4G Growing while 2G & 3G Underpins Albania's Mobile Coverage

Albania’s telecom market is similar to its neighbours with fixed-line telephony penetration declining as subscribers migrate to mobile solutions and with ongoing government efforts to improve broadband availability and access conditions.

Penetration in the fixed-line and broadband sectors remains very low by international standards. Although regulatory obstacles remain, this low penetration provides opportunities for further investment in network upgrades to help propel the country’s economic growth through digital offerings and IP-based technologies and services. Such investment in fixed-line infrastructure is being encouraged by the regulator through amended access measures and by the government through its own funding programs. However, as mobile network infrastructure improves consumers will continue to prefer this platform for voice and data services, and as a result the mobile sector will be the focus for future growth in the overall market.

Recent developments in the telecom sector include the sale of Telekom Albania to Bulgaria’s Vivacom, a deal which has increased the latter’s presence in the Balkan region. In February 2019 Vodafone Albania secured a block of spectrum in the 800MHz band, which it will use to improve its mobile broadband capabilities.

Albania currently has three operators Vodafone Albania, Telekom Albania (brand name One Telecommunication) and ALBtelecom (formerly Eagle Mobile, owned by TürkTelecom).

2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G/UMTS on 2100 MHz on all networks. 4G/LTE has launched in 2015 on all networks. Licenses on 1800 and 2600 MHz (bands 3, 7, 20) were awarded to all three providers.

There were 2.52 million active mobile users in Albania at the end of 2019, down 3.1% year-on-year, according to data from the country's electronic and postal communications authority, AKEP. Vodafone Albania was market leader with 1.25 million active mobile users, followed by Telekom Albania with 852,124 and ALBtelecom with 417,061.

Vodafone is the market leader in Albania with the best coverage in 2G and 3G in the country and a 46% customer share. 4G/LTE has started in 2015. 4G/LTE is available in Tiranë, Gjiri i Lalëzit, Drimadhes, Durrës, Vlorë, Jalë, Dhërmi, Himarë, Sarandë, Fier, Elbasan, Shëngjin, Ksamil, Shkodër and Korçë.

In 2019 Vodafone Albania announced it would be the first operator to bring the 5G experience to Albania. Prime Minister Edi Rama welcomed the technology and praised Vodafone for its achievements. However to date there have been no developments or updates on this.


Telekom was rebranded from AMC in 2015 and is Vodafone's strongest competitor in Albania.
They also use the brand name One Telecommunication. German Telekom owns a majority stake in Greece’s OTE, which in turn owns most of AMC Telekom Albania. Its 3G network reaches already 91% of the country.

In 2019 Telekom Albania was sold to an Albanian-Bulgarian group by the owners of Vivacom Bulgaria subject to government approval.

They started 4G/LTE in 2015 on 1800 (B3) and 2600 MHz (B7) in Tiranë, Durrës, Elbasan, Shkodër, Fier, Vlorë, Korçë, Kamëz, Vorë, Lezhë, Peshkopi, Kukës and have reached most populated areas.

Telekom Albania has selected  Ericsson  to modernize the company’s radio and core networks over the next  five years. Ericsson will upgrade Telekom Albania’s network capabilities to Gigabit LTE class while also making the network 5G ready using the latest Ericsson Radio System equipment.

State telco ALBtelecom has been merging the 3rd mobile provider that was previously called Eagle Mobile. It started with 3G in 2012. So the coverage is still limited and less then the two leading ones. 4G/LTE has started in 2015 in Tirana and is now available in many cities.

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