Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Telemach Covers Almost All of Croatia with 5G Network

ZAGREB, 14 June 2022 - Telemach Croatia has covered almost all of Croatia with a 5G network and 100,000 households with a fast fixed fiber-optic network, approaching national coverage, to be completed by the end of 2022 or in early 2023 with the integration of Optima Telekom, Management Board President Adrian Ježina said on Tuesday.

Telemach has replaced and/or upgraded close to all of 1,200 base stations for the mobile network, and has so far covered Zagreb, Zadar, and Split with a 10-gigabit fiber-optic network, with Osijek to be covered soon as well, he said.

"We have achieved everything we planned in less than a year," he said, noting that this was possible owing to the support of the parent company United Group.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

5G Coverage in Croatia at 60-70%

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The coverage with and access to the 5G network in Croatia has grown since the summer of 2021, when licenses for the 5G frequency range were issued, to 60-70%, and a new auction is being prepared for the existing frequencies, to be held in early 2023, HAKOM regulator official Tonko Obuljen said on Wednesday.

Obuljen, who chairs the HAKOM Council, was speaking at the third 5G Day event, organised by the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM), after a two-year break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"A lot has happened in the past two years. Frequencies were awarded, and a new auction is being prepared for the existing frequencies, for which licenses expire in 2024, and we want telecommunications companies to have time to prepare," Obuljen told Hina.

He noted that it was still difficult to assess how much money the new auction would bring to the state budget, adding that considering that most of the spectrum would be awarded at the national level, he expected all telecoms to participate.

HAKOM is glad about the development of the electronic communications market and 5G, which will certainly contribute to improving Croatia's position on Europe's digital map and with regard to the EU's DESI index on the degree of digitalisation, he said.

Obuljen noted that various startups developing solutions based on 5G technology would be presented at 5G Day, adding that some of the startups that had attended the first 5G Day  had developed their business and many were operating around the world.

One of them is Rimac Automobili, which today presented its visions and products, in which connectivity at high 5G speeds plays a major role.

"In five-six years we expect a boom in 5G services and solutions, which are applicable in all areas of life and work, notably transport, car industry, healthcare and medicine, energy and all other sectors," Obuljen said.

As for the situation on the market and expectations this year, Obuljen said that the market was constantly growing even though no longer in leaps because all telecoms offered convergent services and invested much, but that despite market saturation, growth was expected this year as well.

HAKOM director Miran Gosta said that prices on the telecommunications market would have to grow as well because of rising input costs, with telecoms being particularly concerned about electricity price increases. He added that it was difficult to say how much and when those prices would go up.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

HT, Nokia Test Broadband 25G PON Optics at 20 Gbps Speed at Rijeka Lab

March the 13th, 2022 - Hrvatski Telekom/Croatian Telecom (HT) and Nokia were among the first in the entire world to test advanced 25G PON optical technology in the HT Rijeka lab.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, this is the latest generation of optical network, which increases the speed of download and transmission to unprecedented levels, and with this test, the Rijeka lab measured a speed of 20 gigabits per second.

25G PON technology is otherwise ten times faster than GPON technology, which was enabled by HT for the first time with gigabit broadband access back in 2007, then again but two and a half times faster than XGS-PON technology which was applicable within the HT network from 2021.

The equipment currently used by Hrvatski Telekom is ready for 25G PON, which means that it isn't necessary to make any further adjustments to the main systems in order to realise its commercial availability.

The biggest advantages of 25G PON optics are large capacities, cost optimisation, a generally wider application and a simple introduction into the existing HT optical network, and its application will accelerate the introduction and development of advanced high-performance solutions such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

"Ten years ago, a piece of technology was launched that enabled the transition to HDTV without which many of us wouldn't be able to imagine everyday life now, and today the 25G PON optical network is making history at speeds 200 times faster than that. By testing 25G PON optics and being among the first in the world to do so at the Rijeka lab, Hrvatski Telekom is highlighting its commitment to establishing and maintaining the best user experience through monitoring and introducing some of the world's most modern technological trends,'' said Ivan Uremovic, the director of Strategy and Planning of Access Networks.

Hrvatski Telekom is otherwise one of the first companies from the Deutsche Telekom Group to test out Nokia's broadband 25G PON optics.

Manfred Egger, head of Fixed Access Network Development for Deutsche Telekom and Central Europe at Nokia, said:

“25G PON works flawlessly on the same hardware with existing GPON and XGS-PON broadband technologies. We're very proud to have successfully completed this important test, which confirms the ease with which communication service providers can expand their scope and capacity of broadband access.''

Back in 2021, Hrvatski Telekom increased its fixed network with a record introduction of optics for a new 100,000 households and companies, and the total FTTH coverage increased by 30 percent compared to last year. In that same year, HT was also awarded Umlaut's "Best in Test" award for the best fixed network.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Four Croatian Ministries and Employers Popularising 5G Network Development

October the 28th, 2021 - Four Croatian ministries, as well as several employers, are working to popularise the continued development of the 5G network.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, in order to encourage public debate on the activities of development of electronic communication networks and the introduction of fifth generation (5G) networks, the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) and four Croatian ministries, more precisely the Ministry of Economy, Health, Transport and Infrastructure, and Spatial Planning, Construction and State Property, as well as HAKOM, all signed a Cooperation Agreement on the progress and economic competitiveness of the Republic of Croatia.

The aforementioned cooperation will include informing the public about the impact of digital infrastructure on education, health, industry, research and development, agriculture, transport and energy, and educating people on measures to protect against non-ionising radiation and the impact of modern technology on human health.

We're witnessing the benefits of digitalisation on a daily basis, the signatories agreed, and they came to the fore especially in the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic and the earthquakes of 2020, during which a big step forward was made, from enabling work and studying from home to the trade sector.

The blossoming Croatian ICT sector is continually recording double-digit growth, and as the vice president of HUP ICT Association, Tomislav Makar, pointed out, without the development of the 5G network there can be no accelerated transformation of the private and public sector, connecting rural and island areas with urban ones.

For the Minister of Construction, Darko Horvat, broadband networks are a precondition for attracting greenfield investments, and in his department the adjustment follows through amendments to the laws on physical planning and construction.

In addition to green policy, digitalisation is a key component of the new financial perspectives of the EU as a bloc, for whose incentives projects must meet the criterion of contribution to digitalisation of 20 percent, as was explained by State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Mario Siljeg.

The development of 5G infrastructure at the EU level is also being defined by a special action plan, which aims to achieve its wide implementation in cities and traffic routes in all member states by the year 2025.

The Slavonian city of Osijek is the first 5G city in all of Croatia, and this initiative will contribute to the expansion to other areas, Minister of Transport Oleg Butkovic is convinced.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Hrvatski Telekom Presents Capabilities of 5G+ Network

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - The Hrvatski Telekom (HT), a leading telecom in Croatia, on Thursday presented capabilities of the 5G+ network, which provides a speed of 4 Gbit/s and network response times of only ten milliseconds.

However, its commercial use in Croatia is not going to be possible for yet another year or two due to the lack of adequate devices and telephones.

"5G+ network is based on 26 GHz frequencies and will cover areas that require the best network performance, and will provide 4 to 8 times higher capacity in areas with the highest requirements for the use of data services," the company says on its website.

HT noted that 5G+ was only just emerging in Europe and that Croatia was among the first countries where it is being developed while a member of the Management Board of Hrvatski Telekom and CTIO, Boris Drilo, underscored that that technology already has been existing in America for several years now, adding that smart telephones for that technology exist only in Korea.

Recalling that HT had purchased a frequency spectrum for 5G, Drilo explained that currently, 5G operates on the spectra of 700 Mhz and 3.6 GHz, whereas 5G+ is implemented on a spectrum of 26 GHz.

"With 5G+ network performances we have shown today, we have demonstrated the exciting future we have with 5G technology. The e-mobility and EV segment is just one of the branches that will experience a full boom thanks to 5G. Due to the large spectrum width, the 26 GHz frequency band will be crucial in the future for achieving high capacities as well as high peak transmission speeds. This will enable the development of new customer services that will be able to use high capacity and ultra-low latency, such as, for example, campus networks for Industry 4.0," Drilo was quoted as saying. 

He underscored that the current technology will be faster and more reliable which is important for many segments in transport, electric vehicles, and filling stations.

That means faster and better connections for electric vehicles, smart traffic lights, parking, and e-filling stations of which there are currently 600 in Croatia, the head of HT's e-mobility project Dina Novosel said. Half of those stations are managed by HT, and with regard to the current amount of 2,000 electric vehicles, that is sufficient for the time being but it will have to be increased given the trends in the automobile industry.

5G however will not immediately accelerate and resolve everything and that will take some time.

According to HT, currently, there are about 100,000 5G phones in use in its network in Croatia.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Croatian Telecom Puts First Dubrovnik 5G Network into Function

August the 13th, 2021 - As has unofficially been learned, the very first Dubrovnik 5G network has been set up and put into function by Croatian Telecom, bringing Croatia's southernmost city in line with the most advanced of Internet speeds.

As Dubrovacki Dnevnik writes, according to unofficial information available to the previously linked Dubrovnik daily, the first Dubrovnik 5G network was launched in four locations - in the Gruz business zone, on Ilijina Glavica, around the Rixos Libertas hotel and in Mokosica. The Dubrovnik daily tested out the new 5G network that allows for a huge speed of almost 1000 mbps in two of those locations - Ilijina Glavica and at the Rixos Libertas hotel. Of course, a prerequisite for use is the possession of a device or mobile phone that supports 5G.

The first Dubrovnik 5G network represents huge opportunities for Dubrovnik's local economy and perspective.

The fact that Croatian Telecom was the first to launch the Dubrovnik 5G network also shows that it is an infrastructural precondition for the development of the area of Dubrovnik in the direction of a smart city, which is often mentioned in the city as one of its priority goals. Of course, this is an opportunity for the further development of sustainable tourism, especially in the perspective of digital nomadism and the city's commitment to be a centre of digital nomad tourism. In addition to all of the above, this step also represents a kind of path towards the further improvement of Dubrovnik's local economy and the opening up of opportunities for the development of the IT sector in Dubrovnik.

It should be noted that after the public auction procedure and the investment of 130 million kuna for the new radio frequency spectrum, Croatian Telecom was assigned a 2x10 MHz block at the national level in the 700 MHz frequency band, 12 10 MHz blocks in the 3.6 GHz frequency band (total 120 MHz), and in the 26 GHz frequency band, 2 blocks of 200 MHz (400 MHz in total). Licenses for the use of radio frequency spectrum are granted for a period of fifteen years.

The new 5G network means higher speeds for half a million inhabitants, including the people of Dubrovnik.

Croatian Telecom recently announced that it now provides coverage of two million inhabitants through 600 5G base stations. At the same time, as many as 149 or every fourth base station operates at 3.6 GHz, which means that they are in the area of ​​12 cities; in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek, Dubrovnik, Karlovac, Pula, Slavonski Brod, Sibenik, Varazdin, Velika Gorica and Zadar, and even higher speeds were provided for half a million inhabitants.

Ensuring the largest share of the 5G spectrum, Croatian Telecom's network is ready for all of the future requirements in terms of capacity, high speed and low latency, both in the private user and industrial segment. It will enable the use of the 5G network on all three frequency bands: 700 MHz, 3.6 GHz and 26 GHz, thus continuing to set industry standards and enable the application of new technologies with the aim of stimulating economic growth and social progress. Healthcare, education, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, tourism, transport, smart city development and Industry 4.0 are just some of the areas that the implementation of the 5G network will significantly improve.

To all of its customers, in certain tariffs in the period until September the 30th, 2021, Croatian Telecom will offer (without any additional costs) the possibility of using the 5G network for which it is necessary to be in the area of ​​5G network coverage and have a compatible 5G device. According to the plan, enabling the use of the 5G network on new frequencies has already begun and is being implemented gradually through tariffs. It is envisaged that the benefits of the new frequencies during August will become available to all users who were involved in the promo period of using 5G via DSS technology.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Djuro Lubura Talks Digital Nomads, 5G, Autonomous Vehicle Testing

May the 19th, 2021 - Croatian new tech expert Djuro Lubura believes that Croatia should make it possible for autonomous vehicle testing to take place within the country. He also touched on the topic of digital nomads and how Croatia should behave given its dire demographic picture.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, back at the beginning of the year, a new Law on Foreigners came into force in Croatia, according to which digital nomads can be granted a stay of one year. TCN has been actively involved in that process and more can be read in our dedicated section on it.

Among other things, the condition is that the person isn't a Croatian citizen, that they're performing work through telecommunication technologies, but not for an employer from Croatia, that they have health insurance and that they aren't a threat to the constitutional order. Court and new technologies expert Djuro Lubura commented on the topic of digital nomads, regulations and the introduction of 5G in a recent interview.

Digital nomads

''A person who wants to be a digital nomad and fulfills all the conditions, can submit their request for a temporary residence permit in the consular mission of Croatia in their country or at a competent police administration. The stay is limited in time probably because by law, the digital nomad is included among the other categories of temporary residence that already exist.

According to current interpretations, it won't be possible for them to extend their stay on that basis. I don’t believe anyone will decide on such a complication in life. In Croatia, with the demographics it has, everyone should be welcome, especially highly educated and professional people like digital nomads,'' believes Djuro Lubura.

As the coronavirus pandemic has confirmed, a large number of jobs can be done remotely, and Djuro Lubura expects that with the application of modern technologies and better infrastructure, we can expect further opening of new freedom for both employees and company owners/employers.

"The winners will be those countries that adapt and pass more liberal and flexible laws for digital nomads. Those who don't adapt will face additional depopulation. Croatia must not gamble on its chance here. One of the most important changes in the direction of enabling the development of new technologies and business models based on them is the liberalisation of the taxi market.

Prime Minister Plenkovic and Minister Butkovic proposed to the Parliament a law that was supported by as many as two thirds of MPs, and brought the arrival of Uber and then other platforms that enable cheaper and more accessible taxi transport to the country. The Croatian solution for the liberalisation of the taxi market is being copied by numerous European countries.

The law that liberalised the taxi market has led to significantly lower prices in taxi services and new employment, and today we have about 8,000 taxi vehicles operating throughout Croatia, twice as many as there were before this new law came into force,'' Lubura explained.

"When the state liberalised the taxi market, it sent out a signal that it was open to new technologies and business models, Glovo, Wolt and other platforms started operating in Croatia, which brought significant benefits to both residents and the economy in the food delivery market," he added.

Lubura believes that in the future, Croatia should enable the testing of autonomous vehicles on its roads and thus facilitate the development not only of Rimac Automobili, but also attract many other companies. Preparations are also underway for an auction of the radio frequency spectrum that will enable the introduction of 5G technology, and all telecom operators in Croatia - HT, A1 and Telemach - are currently testing out 5G.

The importance of mobile networks

"We expect even higher investments in both fixed and mobile networks. Croatia is already at the top of the list of countries with the best mobile communication networks in all of Europe, while when it comes to fixed networks we have some room for improvement, especially outside densely populated areas. Telemach's entry into the fixed communications market will lead to a better offer and lower service prices.

If the price of the spectrum is acceptable and if it's all well designed enough to encourage operators to invest, of which I have no doubt because HAKOM, which implements these frequencies, is seriously looking into how it can encourage development and thus provide the state with a greater benefit, much of Croatia will be covered by state-of-the-art fifth-generation mobile networks. This will make Croatia even more attractive to digital nomads, but also to numerous startups with new ideas,'' concluded Croatian tech expert Djuro Lubura.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Croatian Telecom 5G Network Offer to Cover Many Croatian Residents

December the 15th, 2020 - Croatian Telecom is only continuing its marked success over recent months as it prepares to offer access to its 5G network for more than one million Croatian residents.

As Novac/Bernard Ivezic writes, after being challenged by competition in mobile communications for a long time, Croatian Telecom (CT) has made a significant and decisive turn this year. The company was the first in all of Croatia to offer 5G commercially, and it already offers it to more than a million citizens across fourteen Croatian cities, then it received recognition from Spetest and Ookla that its 4G network proved to be the 10th fastest mobile network in the world, a result achieved by no other operator from Croatia.

Jutarnji list talked about this with Boris Drilo, a member of CT's board for technology and information technology. Drilo says that he expected a good placement, but that he couldn't have even imagined that CT would be declared the tenth best in the world.

How many 5G users does CT have?

At the moment, there are about 17,000 users with 5G devices on our network. 5G is available to users using certain tariffs until the end of June 2021, without paying a fee. Leading the way are Samsung's models, with a 50 percent share, then iPhone with a 20 percent share, followed by a group of Chinese manufacturers, such as Huawei and Xiaomi.

Why did you rush to offer commercial 5G to Croatian residents for free?

Because it's important to both us and our customers. For us, it's an important technological step forward, a goal in our development path by which we wanted to show ourselves and our partners what we want to achieve. This is important for our users, too, because this year, all the latest mobile phone models supported 5G technology. If you have the best tariffs on our network and the best mobile phones, we want you to have the best user experience, ie the fastest access to mobile Internet and apps.

When 2G, 3G and 4G came out, none of this was discussed, but with the advent of 5G, it was talked about. Is your 5G the real 5G considering that the frequencies for 5G won't be shared until 2021?

CR has been offering 5G commercially, and it is real 5G in terms of how data exchange between mobile phones and base stations works. That's why you have a 5G icon on your phone. Our 5G network works on the frequencies we have now. When we get new frequencies, we'll start using them. In this case it is important to understand that 5G will work on all frequencies, new and old, including those used today for 4G, 3G and 2G technologies.

What enabled you to offer commercial 5G and 5G frequencies before 2021?

When it comes to the rules on the use of the radio frequency spectrum, the regulator Hakom has expanded the definition of technological neutrality of the spectrum we use. So far, that neutrality has applied to 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. 5G technology wasn't included in it because it didn't exist at the time of its writing. This has now been changed by Hakom, which is a common practice all over the world. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t have to go for the allocation of the new 5G spectrum. This is now a transitional solution. The state plans to allocate the 5G frequencies. We hope, given that we believe that it isn't yet time to monetise 5G, that the fees that the state will demand for 5G will be set fairly to enable us to establish the proper infrastructure that will be the basis for digitalisation of the economy and society as soon as possible.

How much faster is surfing over 5G compared to 4G at the moment?

You can currently surf 10 to 15 percent faster on 5G than you can on 4G. This is because they use existing available frequencies, which have so far been used for 4G using a technology called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, and a limited set of available 5G technology capabilities. The plan with the development of 5G is to reach gigabit speeds. For this, we'll have to wait until 2021, when new frequencies will be allocated, for example those at 3.5 GHz, thanks to which the available spectrum will be doubled and a significant increase in speed will be enabled. Currently, all three operators have an average of 90-100 megahertz of spectrum available, and with the allocation of the new spectrum, each operator will receive an additional 100. In parallel, new technological capabilities will be offered on 5G, so the speeds will reach gigabit. In reality, user speeds on 5G networks at 3.5 GHz will be 2-3 times higher than those we now have on 4G.

What does the increase in surf speeds on 5G depend on?

Firstly, they depend on the allocation of a new spectrum next year and on the technological possibilities of combining the existing and new frequency spectrum. The more spectrum we're able to offer for 5G, the higher the speeds will be. At the same time, it's important that users switch from 4G devices to 5G devices in order to take advantage of all the benefits provided by this new technology.

What speeds can Croatian residents expect in the long run?

With the arrival of a new spectrum and new technological capabilities of 5G and up to ten times higher speeds in the future. Ideally up to a gigabit, potentially a gigabit and a half. However, in reality, and in real conditions, it may not be so. For example, 4G user speeds today stand at around 60-70 Mbps, not 300-400 Mbps as achieved in very favourable conditions. Additionally, 5G won't be 1Gbps for everyone nor will such speeds be available everywhere, around 300 Mbps in real conditions should be achievable, however.

Will 5G reduce the number of network crashes for Croatian residents?

5G technology means an advancement in every way. In some segments, the fifth-generation network architecture will be more distributed than the 4G architecture is, which in theory means it should be more resilient and as such more stable. However, each new technology comes with certain 'childhood diseases' that we'll need to be prepared for and work on.

Will 5G increase radiation?

The way things were for 4G are the same as they'll be with 5G. Croatia has one of the strictest regulations on this issue and that hasn't changed. So, everything that is strictly defined for 4G is equally as strictly defined for 5G. The maximum allowable radiation intensity isn't about to change. Everything is going to remain as it was, that is, we're going to remain more rigorous than many developed European countries such as Italy, France, Austria and Great Britain. Such rigorous rules aren't good because they slow down the development of networks and thus slow down the digitalisation and development of the economy and society.

We can already see that with the arrival of 5G, 3G and 4G networks will disappear, and potentially 2G will as well. Will WiFi networks disappear as well?

No. The fifth generation of mobile networks will remain in the domain of mobile networks while WiFi will continue to be used for home networks and related Internet access within households or for specific needs such as Internet access in hotels or conference rooms. Just as 5G will not replace optical Internet access, it will also not replace WiFi, which as a standard continues to evolve to enable the highest possible wireless speeds within a household connected to the Internet via an optical connection. For example, the latest WiFi 6 standard defines speeds of up to 10 Gbps, which isn't possible if you don't have a very high capacity optical connection.

However, in industrial applications, if anyone has even used WiFi until now, there is a good reason to replace it with 5G. I expect 5G to go in the direction of industrial use in this case, it will involve communication with devices, machines and robots. It's to be expected that industrial 5G modules will be much more affordable, and by its very design, 5G envisions much more industrial application than WIFI.

When we talk about technological possibilities, ie the maturation of 5G technology, what is already possible today, for example, on your 5G network?

We presented the cooperation on the transmission of video signals between drones and augmented reality glasses made by the Croatian startup Orqa via 5G. I expect 5G technology to gradually mature over the next five years. Not all 5G functionalities are there from the very beginning. For example, the 5G functionalities that will enable self-driving cars aren't yet there. This requires latency, ie the response speed of the 5G network below 10 milliseconds. For example, we're now at 25-30 milliseconds in real conditions. I think that before that comes, we'll start with the application of 5G sensors in so-called smart solutions, whether that's agriculture, logistics or the municipal infrastructure of cities. 5G is better than 4G technology, as it allows for a much higher sensor density per square kilometre.

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Friday, 27 November 2020

No Complete Digital Croatia Until 5G Network Introduction?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes on the 26th of November, 2020, the Croatian Government has launched a public consultation on the National Plan for the Development of Broadband Access in the Republic of Croatia in the Period from 2021 to 2027, which imposes itself as the main precondition for the development of very high capacity networks (VHCN), even in the most rural areas of the country. Is a truly Digital Croatia closer than ever?

The plan follows not only the domestic plans for a more digital Croatia, but the wider strategic goals of the European Union's broadband approach as formally defined by the European Gigabit Society 2025 communication.

The objectives of the National Plan are, among other things, the introduction of very high capacity networks in Croatian households (at least 100 Mbit / s, with the possibility of upgrading to speeds up to 1 Gbit / s), the introduction of very high capacity networks for public purposes (at least 1 Gbit / s symmetrically), the introduction of 5G networks in urban areas and along the country's main traffic routes, and the introduction of 5G networks in rural areas.

The Croatian Network Regulatory Agency (Hakom) is already participating in preparations for the implementation of 5G networks, and will participate, as they say, in other implementation activities in accordance with the Plan, because they are making great efforts to meet the goals of the European Commission's 5G Action Plan which involves providing commercial 5G service in at least one major city across all EU member states in 2020, 5G network coverage in all urban areas and along all major land transport routes by 2025.

''The plan is to encourage investment in infrastructure and construction of 5G networks in rural areas and across all areas in generally, including those currently less covered by broadband access, in order to provide customers with a certain quality of service. To inform the public, Hakom has published a special section dedicated exclusively to 5G technology on its website, it talks about about what 5G is, its technical characteristics and its possible uses. EU and national strategies are presented there, while the section on electromagnetic fields explains the relevant regulations and the role of Hakom in the control of electromagnetic fields.

"Data on locations where base stations are set up for the purpose of testing the functionality of 5G technology is published and regularly updated," they state.

According to the Index of Economic and Social Digitisation for 2020 (DESI), Croatia is 25th out of 28 members in the Connectivity category, as it was back in 2019, and looking at all of the DESI categories in total, Croatia is in 20th place this year. In Connectivity, which concerns broadband internet, there are several benchmarks, and Hakom has singled out two in which they expect a significant boost - readiness for 5G in which Croatia is performing badly because the allocated spectrum for 5G is still being measured as a result of the ongoing crisis, although Croatian operators themselves are ready for 5G and even offer this service commercially.

The second measure is Croatian households with an Internet subscription of at least 100Mbit / s.

"Although the availability of the Internet above 30Mbit / s and 100Mbit / s is average compared to all other EU member states, in Croatia, households have only recently been wanting very high speeds and changing their previous packages, and there is a higher percentage of the population who don't use the Internet at all." they explain.

With the moving forward of Digital Croatia with the digitalisation of public administration, e-health, education and other things, in the coming years, Hakom says that the widespread introduction and application of new concepts and applications in the economy, such as Industry 4.0 Big Data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities will occur.

“The crisis caused by the pandemic has confirmed the importance of universal access to very large capacity networks that are at the same time reliable, secure and accessible to all at affordable prices. The digital divide between urban and rural areas and people of a different socio-economic status has become particularly visible. We think that in the post-covid era there will be an accelerated digital transformation of society as a whole, which will require an adequate digital infrastructure in terms of data transfer speeds, resilience and the reliability of connections,'' they conclude.

Croatian Telecom/HT, which launched its 5G network less than a month ago, briefly commented that they support all measures that simplify and reduce the cost of building fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure and enable the maximum use of EU funds, because without broadband infrastructure there can be no real Digital Croatia.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Will Elon Musk's Starlink Speed Up Croatia 5G Network?

As Novac/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 24th of November, 2020, less than a month after Starlink, Elon Musk's space telecom, started operating, discussions have begun about when it will become available here Croatia. Could Musk's move mean the speeding up of the Croatia 5G network?

For now, Starlink has only offered Americans internet via satellite speeds that are between what 4G offers today and what 5G should initially offer in the future. Musk's Starlink offers a speed of 50-150 Mbps with a latency of 20-40 milliseconds, so far with no gigabyte limit, and with the promise that it will be even better in the future.

Due to its price, this alternative to terrestrial telecoms won't be for everyone despite the fact that it will more than likely have very positive effects on the Croatia 5G network. The monthly subscription is 630 kuna with a previous purchase of a package that includes an antenna, tripod and Wi-Fi router for 3200 kuna. However, factories that need a backup connection, construction sites, hotels, platforms, sailboats, ships and planes shouldn't have a problem with these amounts. Musk has already asked the US FCC regulator for permission to test Starlink out on Gulfstream jets. A good portion of Starlink's commercial testers are also potential users of the future 5G.

Satellite operation

Starlink's entry into the European market won't be easy. The first to be able to use his services in Europe are the Norwegians, and that should be in the next few months, as Canada and Norway are listed only as the first markets outside the United States to which Musk will expand. In addition, only India is highlighted, which Starlink is expected to enter in the middle of next year. Here in Croatia, as is the case in other EU countries, Starlink will apparently not be able to sell its services immediately. And until a week ago, when another of Musk's companies, Tesla Motors, opened a car shop in Zagreb, it was inconceivable that something like this could happen here at all, now no one doubts that Starlink will make its way here, too.

From Hakom, Croatia's telecommunication regulator, it was learned that Musk will need certain permits to operate Starlink in Croatia, as he will across the rest of the EU. Hakom states that a license isn't required for the operation of these satellites, but one for the provision of Internet or "electronic communication services" on the territory of Croatia is definitely necessary.

"Starlink or any other company that plans to provide electronic communications services here in Croatia is obliged to apply to Hakom for this activity through the e-Operator portal," they explained from Hakom.

Commercial 5G

They explained that then, the only remaining question regards Starlink's satellite dish and which one Croatia's users will buy. Hakom states that it has issued a general permit that allows the free use of fixed earth stations in a fixed satellite service that communicates with non-geostationary satellite networks. Here in Croatia, almost 150,000 residents use satellite television from Croatian Telecom and A1 Croatia. However, Hakom points out that they don't yet know whether Starlink's terrestrial terminals meet the conditions for that general permit, but this is likely to crystallise over the next year. During that time, telecoms are expected to accelerate the spread of the Croatia 5G network.

At this point, Croatian Telecom has already launched commercial 5G. A1 is announcing the same for next year, although it is being intensively tested, and two weeks ago Tele2 (Telemach) announced an investment of 130 million euros in its own 5G network and the launch of that same network next year. From Hakom, they say that all three operators can already offer commercial 5G.

"Licenses for the use of the RF spectrum are technologically neutral and refer to the frequencies that an individual operator receives, and with the change in October, we enabled the use of 5G technology to all operators," they say from Hakom.

Rural environments and islands

"A public auction for the allocation of the right to use 5G frequency bands is planned to be launched at the end of the first half of 2021, and a public hearing on the specific model of the public auction and the obligations of operators will be held beforehand," Hakom explained.

During that time, all three operators have licenses to test the full range of the Croatia 5G network in the Eastern city of Osijek. The condition is that they cannot offer this as a commercial service. Croatian Telecom and A1 are testing 5G in both Osijek and in Zagreb, and Croatian Telecom also covered ​​Bjelovar and Krk, while A1 installed their 5G antennas in Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka and Cepin. Tele2-Telemach'a 5G is currently being tested only in Zagreb.

The wider application of the Croatia 5G network will enable operators to compete with Musk's Starlink in rural areas and across Croatia's inhabited islands, ie wherever there is no developed optical network today. Hakom states that telecoms will be able to use 5G to offer a landline phone, internet and TV connection. It will also be able to offer backup over 5G for users of the existing network, and the list of technologies and capabilities will be extended even to autonomous vehicles. Although Mate Rimac said that he was on his way to that, Hakom states that so far no one is using 5G for autonomous vehicles in Croatia.

"Something like this will be possible only with the allocation of 5G frequencies next year. It's important to point out that for autonomous vehicles, it's necessary to ensure the continuous coverage of all roads with a 5G signal with a certain quality of service, which will require large financial investments,'' Hakom concluded.

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