Đorđe Popović, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Telenor Serbia

Pioneering the First 5G Test Environment

Telenor Serbia covers a 100 % of the country's population with its 4G network, while more than 300 cities are covered with 4G+ technology.

Đorđe Popović, Predsednik FIC Odbora za infrastrukturu i industrijalizaciju (Telenor d.o.o.)

Most of Telenor’s investments go into infrastructure and network capacity development, mobile internet, digital technologies, as well as innovations.

The Telenor Network was again declared “Best in test” in the second independent mobile benchmarking rating in Serbia, conducted by international company P3. How significant is this recognition?

Specific focus and continual devotion to the highest possible network results is part of our DNA. The fact that this latest recognition was awarded by P3, being one of the most relevant and prestigious international organizations in the field, speaks for itself. Even more significantly, this is the third independent acknowledgment in a short time. The first one came from RATEL at the end of 2018, when Telenor Serbia scored the best total result in mobile network quality benchmarking in Serbia. I am especially proud of it as it was carried out by an independent local regulatory body whose key goal is to provide the best possible conditions to the users of electronic communications in Serbia. This confirmation was then followed by P3 acknowledgments two more times during 2019, demonstrating that the quality of the network is the absolute priority of our business. More than a decade, we have been continually working so that Telenor network has excellent quality for all citizens in Serbia, in all parts of the country.

​Telenor Serbia covers 100% of country`s population with 4G network, while more than 300 cities are covered with 4G+ technology and the company is now ready for the commercial deployment of the next generation network. Have all the preconditions been achieved for the realization of your plans?

​On legal front, there are a few steps yet to be taken to have the 5G fully operable in Serbia, including to adapt the local zoning requirements and improve the procedure of permits’ obtainment. Equally, for 5G to take off, we need the partnership of the businesses and the public sector, the Government and regulators as the initiators of this new ecosystem creation. This is an effort of the entire society. As a very first step in that direction, Telenor has proudly pioneered the first 5G environment in NTP Belgrade, to develop and test the use cases with our partners, which can contribute to both business and a wider community.

We have been working continuously for more than a decade to ensure that the Telenor network has excellent quality for all citizens of Serbia, in all parts of the country

But the implementation and commercial availability of 5G technology is not so close, as there are several other preconditions that must be met, such as fully enabling regulatory framework, 5G enabled devices availability, transformation of industries that will utilize 5G technology, and other. Clearly, one of the key formal preconditions is radio frequency spectrum auction. The Government should select the model and period for holding it, alongside timely consultation with the telecommunication industry, with the aim of selling bands that are most needed from the perspective of technology usage and market demands. The roll out and any coverage expectations should reflect that too, being focused on achievement of sustainable goals and long-term benefits for the consumers, businesses and society, rather than chasing easy wins with no substance and thus having limited effects.

How much will 5G network change our lives?

Oh, pretty much. 5G would certainly improve the user experience in the sense of 10 to 100 times faster internet, enhanced services and the possibility of watching TV program on phones in real time, for example. Also, it will make possible making billions of new instant connections so that many industries can take advantage of cellular network in ways that wouldn’t have been imaginable before. That implies increase in the level of connectivity between cars and roads, or doctors’ interventions and personal medical devices of their patients, or improved agriculture processes, while augmented reality will be able to help people shop, learn and explore wherever they are. But generational change in mobile communications does not just appear overnight. It requires significant efforts in research and development which Telenor has started in Serbia, as many telcos around the world.

To what extent do your investments serve to generate the development of supporting industries and the economy generally?

Telco industry has always been an engine for the economy growth and we see important steps have been conducted in digitalization of society and government. Telecommunications can and will play even bigger role in this process and take the lead in the key market shaping initiatives. We could not only secure better performance, but also contribute to greater market stability. Our customers’ wishes are the key driver and direction for Telenor future investments and we are primary supporting their increasing data needs. Undoubtedly, most of the investments are going into infrastructure and development of network capacity, mobile internet, digital technologies, as well as innovations, including a quest for completely new markets and services.