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Đorđe Marović, Chief Technical Officer, Telekom Srbija

mts In The Group Of Europe’s Best Operators

Telekom Srbija is increasing its investments year-on-year in the development of fibre optics and the expansion of its mobile network. It has additionally acquired a large number of cable operators, while at the same time the company is very active in the multimedia domain, in the field of content production

RATEL has declared us the best mobile network in Serbia for the second consecutive year, which confirms that results have been yielded by all our efforts to provide users with the best experience in using our mobile services. All of our users are equally precious to us, which is an important characteristic of our company’s operations – notes Telekom Srbija CTO Đorđe Marović proudly.

Telecommunications is experiencing constant expansion. In that context, what is the position of Serbia and the region like?

The field of telecommunications has been developing intensively in Serbia for more than two decades, since the introduction of mobile telephony and the later arrival of broadband internet. In that respect, Serbia and the region are not lagging behind the rest of the world, and technologies that are becoming the standard around the world are almost simultaneously being introduced to Serbia.

All Smartphone models are available to our users immediately after their world premieres, and this also applies to the largest number of user apps. On the other hand, some global brands make their own business decisions about when they will enable services on the territory of Serbia, so for instance Netflix only appeared in 2016 and Apple only enabled access to the App Store in 2020. However, it is noticeable that the habits and needs of users in Serbia, the region and the wider world don’t differ and boil down to users expecting to have an accessible, affordable and reliable telecommunications service always and everywhere, as well as the freedom to choose the content and apps that they will use.

Over the course of the past year, due to the pandemic, the need for communication has increased dramatically, primarily in terms of high-speed internet and mobile signals. Have you been able to meet the expectations of clients?

Telekom Srbija has recorded a significant increase in the use of many services during the pandemic. Users are working from home and using the internet en masse, which needs to be supported on the network. During the state of emergency we recorded a 52% jump in the total amount of data transmitted over the internet, while the average amount of data transmitted via the Viber application in the mobile network jumped by 150%, use of the Netflix platform doubled and use of the TikTok platform even tripled. The total duration of mobile calls increased by 80%, and landline calls by 40%.

Even today, long after the lifting of the state of emergency, trends in the use of services have remained such that constant growth is noticeable. Telekom Srbija responds successfully to all these demands, without any kind of negative consequences for network infrastructure and the quality of services, with which we fully satisfy our users’ expectations.

The total internet flow through the Telekom Srbija network during the state of emergency exceeded 1Tb/s, which the mts network supported without a problem

In fierce competition between both mobile operators and free communication services, how do you retain your existing users and acquire new ones? Is the secret in new contents and new ways of “consuming”?

All operators are experiencing great market pressure and battling in the competitiveness of offers, both among themselves and with global players, such as Viber, WhatsApp, Google and various content providers. The market is saturated with offers of free communications services and affordable video platforms. This trend is also leading to a decline in the revenues of operators from traditional services, such as telephony and SMS messaging, so operators are trying to retain their users by offering them new innovative and more affordable services. In accordance with that, Telekom Srbija offers users its Box service packages, which provide significant discounts.

Our company has also been engaging intensively in the production of multimedia content over the last few years. These activities have resulted, among other things, in the creation of many TV series that are very popular among the public. All this is fully in line with global ICT trends and represents a new source of revenue for telco operators.

How much have you progressed when it comes to developing your own infrastructure?

Significant funds were invested in the development of fibre optics and mobile infrastructure in the previous period, and the results are very evident. Connecting to fibre optic infrastructure is currently enabled for almost 800,000 households in Serbia. When it comes to the mobile network, with 2,800 mobile telephony stations, more than 98% of the population, and more than 84% of the territory, are covered by a quality LTE signal, which is the best result in Serbia. Another interesting fact is that, during the state of emergency, the total internet flow through the Telekom Srbija network exceeded 1Tb/s, which was supported by the mts network without any problems whatsoever.

The plan is for the number of households with access to the optical network to exceed a million soon

What are your plans for the coming period?

Telekom Srbija is continuing its activities in the field of acquiring cable operators and producing multimedia content, as well as investing in fibre optics and mobile infrastructure, with the aim of maintaining a leading position in the region. The plan is for the number of households with access to the optical network to exceed a million soon. Likewise, we also have very ambitious plans for the diaspora and our goal is to strengthen our presence on various markets, specifically those of Europe, the U.S. and Canada.

RATEL declared you the best mobile network in Serbia for the second consecutive year. How important is this acknowledgement? What does it actually show?

RATEL’s acknowledgement provides confirmation that all our efforts to provide users with the best experience in using mobile services have yielded results. The mts network achieved the best result thanks to the top quality of all services in all categories. An important characteristic of our company’s operations is that all of our customers are equally precious. Thus, we don’t only provide top quality voice service and mobile internet to the population in urban hubs, but also in rural areas. A call in the mts network is connected in less than a second, the sound quality is “crystal clear”, and users are available anywhere in Serbia.

The best experience has also been achieved in the segment of the speed and quality of “surfing” the internet and watching video content. The availability of YouTube, which is reflected in an uninterrupted service when watching content for a large number of cities, has been as high as 100%.

Are the quality of services provided by the mts mobile network in Serbia comparable to the quality of services available in the EU? The methodology for measuring the performance of mobile networks in Serbia and the analysis of the results was done according to international standards prescribed by ETSI [standards organisation]. We are proud of the fact that, according to the results of measurement, mts could be ranked among the best European operators in terms of mobile network quality. We are convinced that we will further improve the quality of service achieved in the future.