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With Measures Anticipated Under the Broadband Plan to Faster Internet in North Macedonia

Skopje, July 2nd, 2019

With a view to improve state-of-affairs in utilization of broadband services and well as speed thereof, the Government adopted the National Operational Broadband Plan - NOBP (2019 - 2022). The underlying aim is to reach speed and utilization of broadband that are in place in EU member-states.

The document was delivered to the EU for comment, whereby a positive report was issued thereto.

Taking into account the internet speed in North Macedonia and the standards in place in European countries, the Government and the Ministry of Information Society and Administration have anticipated a number of measures and activities under the National Operational Broadband Plan, which are aligned with EU policies and strategies concerning this area.

Thus, for the first time in history, we have an operational plan with clearly defined national goals that need to be attained (by 2029):

-          At least one city is anticipated to be covered with 5G signal by late 2023.

-          The main corridors in the state are anticipated to be covered with uninterrupted 5G signal by late 2025.

-           All cities in the country are anticipated to be covered with uninterrupted 5G signal by late 2027.

-          By late 2029, every person is anticipated to have the opportunity to access the internet via 5G with a minimum Internet access speed of at least 100 Mbps.

-           By late 2029, at least 50% of the total number of subscriber contracts of households throughout the state should cover delivery of Internet access speed of at least 100 Mbps.

We are well aware that the goals in question seem rather ambitious, but we firmly believe that we have adequate capacities for attainment thereof.

Findings from the mapping of current commercial networks and operators' future plans conducted in 2018, indicate that a large share of households (approximately 30%) live in so-called "white zones", i.e. zones that lack capacities for access to super/ultra-fast Internet (with a speed higher than 100Mbps), and there are no plans to invest in such networks.

This digital, or broadband, gap must be reduced. This is also one of the realistic reasons behind the low ranks of our country in utilization of broadband and average speed thereof.

Therefore, in accordance with NOBP, a National Transport Fiber Network will be developed to access these "white zones", as well as fiber network within the "white zones", that would be available for operators to use so to provide services to the citizens, but only under one condition: retail prices for super-fast internet access for households should not exceed 2% of the average monthly income in a respective planning region.

This network will be developed in cooperation with the World Bank. Development thereof will begin following preparation of a feasibility study that is expected to commence in October.

This, along with other measures anticipated under the National Operational Broadband Plan, will increase the speed and utilization of Internet in our country, and we believe that it will improve North Macedonia's rank during the next measurement of telecommunication services, compared to the current year.

Ministry of Information Society and Administration