Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Croatia is Switching-On 5G

 

The telecoms market in Croatia has been shaped by the country having joined the European Union in 2013, this resulted in market liberalisation and the creation of a regulatory environment conducive to competition. Alternative operators have entered the market and there is effective competition in the in the fixed-line, broadband and mobile markets.

The market has attracted international players including Telekom Austria and Tele2 Group, though the latter in mid-2019 sold its local unit Tele2 Croatia to United Group, a company with existing telecom and pay TV interests in the region. As a result, further investment and an expansion of Tele2 Croatia’s offerings are expected into 2020.

Croatia’s mobile market is served by three network operators, Hrvatski Telekom (owned by Deutsche Telekom), A1 Croatia (owned by Telekom Austria) and Tele2 (sold by the Swedish Tele2 to the United Group in 2019.)

There is also room for a small number of MVNOs. The network operators have focused on improving ARPU by encouraging prepaid subscribers to migrate to postpaid plans, and on developing revenue from customer use of mobile data services. To this end considerable investment is ongoing to upgrade network infrastructure, with the incumbent telco Hrvatski Telekom spearheading trials of 5G technologies and services.

Hrvatski Telecom (fomerly T-Mobile) is market leader with the widest coverage. They are followed by A1 which is holding P3 certificate in 2019. and finally Tele2 which has smaller network coverage but free roaming on Hrvatski Telekom in rural area. There is two MVNOs, Bonbon on Hrvatski Telekom and Tomato on A1.

2G on Hrvatski Telekom and A1 is on 900MHz and Tele2 on 1800 MHz, 3G on 900MHz and 2100 MHz all three providers. 4G/LTE is available from 2012., and bands are 1, 3, 7 and 20 with carrier aggregation available on all three providers. Tele2 is using only bands 1 and 3 for now, with plans.

 

Hrvatski Telekom is the market leader in the country with the widest coverage, covering more than 50% of all mobile network users in Croatia. HT mobile networks cover more than 98% of Croatian territory. Outside of the home network their users are covered by more than 200 GSM operators in their global roaming network.

Ericsson’s Croatian associated company has been selected by Croatian communications service provider Hrvatski Telekom as its sole supplier of 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and services until 2024.

Hrvatski Telekom has also tested dynamic spectrum sharing technology to support the rapid roll-out of 5G. Through the pilot, which was run over two years in areas of the city of Samobor, Hrvatski Telekom has enabled 5G technology on ten base stations in the 2.1GHz frequency band and five base stations in the 3.5 GHz band. They say this creates the largest 5G area in Croatia, in terms of speed and coverage.
Hrvatski Telekom said the simple and fast implementation of dynamic spectrum sharing technology was possible thanks to the recent modernisation of its mobile network, which was completed in February. Hrvatski Telekom invested more than HRK 1 billion (€130 million) into upgrading all the transmitters in its network to support 4G/LTE technology.


At the end of October, Hrvatski Telekom (HT) has switched on Croatia’s first commercial 5G network in parts of Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, Osijek, Samobor and Sveta Nedelja. The network is based on dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology, which enables the use of existing frequencies for 5G. Customers on selected tariffs and with a 5G-capable device can access 5G services at no extra charge until June 2021. The rollout of the 5G network is a continuation of activities on the construction of the network of the future which HT began to implement and test in March 2019.


A1 Croatia was rebranded from Vipnet in 2018 and is the 2nd largest provider in Croatia with approximately 2 million subscribers. 

A1 Croatia have invested in the development of 5G technology and was the first to demonstrate a speed greater than 20 Gbit/s in a live 5G network, which is an absolute speed record in the Croatian mobile segment.  The demonstrated speeds and capacities of 5G technology in the future will allow gigabit speeds across the entire territory of Croatia, which are the basic preconditions for digitalisation, consistent development and global competitiveness. They continue the development of the fastest mobile network of the new generation which allows their customers to reach internet speeds up to 750Mbps. 

A1 Hrvatska will enable access to the 5G network for its users in more than 70 towns across Croatia as of December this year, using DSH or dynamic spectrum sharing technology.

Tele2 is the 3rd provider in Croatia. They started 4G/LTE in 2016 already covering 90% and open to all prepaid plans. In cities coverage is similar to HT and A1. In rural areas (highways outside cities and unpopulated areas) Tele2 is automatically roaming on Hrvatski Telekom, without additional surcharges.

In 2020 Tele2 was sold to the United Group. So a brand change is likely to be ahead.

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