The development of 5G networks and modern technologies will undoubtedly provide a strong impetus to Serbia’s overall development
Despite many of the surrounding countries having already introduced 5G networks, Serbia continues to wait. Serbian Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Minister Tatjana Matić explains that the procedure for acquiring the right to use radio frequencies on the basis of an individual license, which is issued following a public bidding process, is underway, in accordance with the Law on Electronic Communications.
Upon completion of the procedure, the Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services is then tasked with making a decision on whether applicants fulfil the conditions for issuance of individual licenses on the basis of the public bidding process.
After this, explains our interlocutor, the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications passes an act that stipulates the minimum conditions for the issuance of individual licenses in accordance with the public bidding procedure, then the Agency brings a decision on the launch of the public bidding procedure.
Many of the countries of our region have already advanced in this work. What have their experiences taught us about implementing 5G?
– The experiences of other countries, whether in the surrounding area, the European Union or around the world, represent examples of good practice that Serbia will take into consideration when planning and implementing public tenders.
There are numerous examples of potential applications of the 5G network, which encompass areas like the automotive industry, agronomy, medicine, education, logistics, manufacturing, energy, connected autonomous vehicles, applications for the automation of transport and storage, and many other areas. The development of 5G networks and modern technologies will undoubtedly provide a strong impetus to Serbia’s overall development.
The Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia recently conducted a survey on the use of high technology (automation, artificial intelligence applications etc.) in Serbian companies. How much of a real need for 5G exists in our industry and who would be its most important users?
– The basic advantages that are brought by 5G technology include a significant increase in flow with reduced delays, which is essential for efficient automation and other important processes for the development of industry. That’s why our industry is interested in the implementation and adequate application of 5G technology. Considering 5G’s development potential, Serbia will ensure that all interested parties have opportunities to utilise this technology.
The use of 5G, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data and other modern technologies provides new opportunities for development, innovation and hiring staff, as well as contributing to society achieving optimised healthcare, improved operational efficiency, environmental protection and the development of smart cities.
At the same time, you previously announced major works to construct capacities for broadband internet in the parts of Serbia that had a poor internet signal or lacked internet coverage entirely. How much have these works progressed?
Under the scope of the ongoing first phase of the project, the Ministry enables public institutions and primarily schools in certain rural settlements to connect with the existing optical network. The construction of the ‘middle mile’ segment provides an incentive for private sector operators to construct the ‘last mile’ infrastructure by rendering their investments in rural areas financially sustainable. The areas where joint construction is being conducted would be left without coverage if it weren’t for government intervention, because operators have no economic interest in independently constructing broadband infrastructure.
The biggest gap in the acquiring of digital skills is linked to income levels between households. That’s why social inclusion in the area of developing digital skills is the Strategy’s most important task
Likewise, documentation for obtaining location conditions has to date been prepared and submitted for approximately 1,500 kilometres, while requests for the approval of construction have also been submitted for almost 1,200 kilometres of the route. A tender is also underway for the works contractor on the construction of the middle mile segment of infrastructure, as well as for the expert supervision of construction, with these tenders being conducted in accordance with the rules of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Infrastructure works will begin following the culmination of the tender and the signing of the contract.
The second phase of the project will see additional rural settlements provided with broadband access.
The rise of e-services and e-government, and finally also the shift to online education, have all impacted on the need for all citizens to acquire digital skills. How much of a gap in digital skills exists in this domain and to what extent does the current Strategy represent a relevant platform for further action?
– The Strategy for Digital Skills Development in the Republic of Serbia for the period from 2020 to 2024 aims to reduce the gap that’s emerged due to accelerated technological development and the objective impossibility of individual and collective digital transformation unfolding at the same pace, along with indispensable internet security and personal data protection. Existing data of the Statistical Office show the state of computer literacy, where a slight gap exists between the male and female population in favour of men, as well as a distinct gap between urban and rural households when it comes to the use of information and communication technologies. However, the biggest gap is in income levels between households.
In this sense, social inclusion in the area of developing digital skills is the Strategy’s most important task.
Considering the various identified groups of the population and their vulnerability when it comes to the capacity to develop digital skills, the Strategy follows the EU’s contemporary development goals and relies internationally on the existing regulatory framework that is constantly developing. As such, this Strategy really represents a fundamental document that will contribute to advancing digital competences in education, improving digital skills with the aim of furthering the use of electronic services and labour market competitiveness, eliminating disparities that emerge between different groups of the population as a result of social stratification and the availability of modern technologies and infrastructure, as well as promoting the continuous and lifelong education of experts in this field.
Considering 5G’s development potential, Serbia will ensure that all interested parties have opportunities to utilise this technology
The construction of the middle mile segment enables private sector operators to construct the last mile infrastructure and ensure their investments in rural areas are sustainable
The Strategy for Digital Skills Development represents a fundamental document that will contribute to advancing digital competences in education