The telecommunications sector faces a great challenge

The adoption of the Strategy for the development of broadband internet in Serbia until 2016 should be one of the first steps of the new government after the elections, said State Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Telecommunications Stefan Lazarević, adding that it would contribute to GDP growth and job creation.

At the opening of the Telecommunications Forum South East Europe (SEE Telecoms Forum 2014), Lazarević pointed out that the Ministry has already prepared the Strategy, that the public debate was completed and a large number of comments had been implemented, but given that the elections were called, its adoption will have to wait for the new government

For the development of broadband, it is very important that the new parliament adopt the Law on Planning and Construction quickly, which has also long been prepared and will facilitate the development of telecommunications infrastructure in Serbia, said Lazarević.

According to him, several other laws are important for this sector, including the Law on Electronic Business.

“Our idea is to integrate in that law the question of electronic identity, e-signatures, e-documents, as well as to solve the issue of electronic filing” said Lazarević.

He explained that investors now believe that the reliability and cost of telecommunications are a key factor when deciding on investments, that most countries in the region are gradually adapting their legislation in accordance with the EU, but that additional effort is still required in the implementation of the guarantee of competition.

The strong desire of Southeast European countries to join the EU ensures that the general direction of telecommunications policy moves towards opening markets, which has created opportunities for foreign direct investment in the sector, said Lazarević.

Director of the telecommunications consulting company PwC Dejan Ljuština believes that the telecommunications sector faces a big challenge today due to the increasing use of smartphones, tablets and similar devices, not for classical purposes, such as phone calls and sending messages, but for applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.

Despite the fact that more and more people want to communicate, the reality is that telecom operators are facing falling revenue and profitability, and that the vast majority of them are struggling to find funds to invest in the network, said Ljuština.

This, he explained, occurs because the telecom operators have neither transformed, nor found a business model in which to take advantage of the opportunities provided by applications and social networks, rather this was done primarily by companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and WhatsApp.

It is expected that, by 2020, the operators’ revenue decline will move at a rate of two per cent, especially in fixed-line telephony, and somewhat less in mobile.

Parallel with this decline, the number of spent minutes in telecommunication networks will not decline but will remain stable, while the exchange of data will grow exponentially.