Thursday, 19 March 2020

Surge in Telecommunication Traffic Due to Online Classes, Work at Home

ZAGREB, March 19, 2020 - Telecoms in Croatia are registering a rise in traffic this week due to online classes starting, more people working at home, more calls being made, and an increase in using various services and applications, however, network capacities are large enough at the moment to handle increased traffic.

Three biggest telecom companies in Croatia have informed Hina that everything is controllable despite this surge.

The HT telecom emphasises that at this moment the company is focused on making sure that users are connected, pointing out that their communications infrastructure has a remarkable capacity and a high quality, and that it is reliable and stable.

“We have ensured contacts with other telecoms and we are following the ongoing developments in telecommunications operators in other European countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so that we could recognise the risks on time and take every possible action to remove them. The HT telecom has recently completed the project of upgrading the mobile network, which has increased users’ speed and improved the quality of mobile services,” the HT stated.

However, considering the fact that this is an extraordinary situation in which networks are under extreme strain, they call for the users to use their services responsibly so that the telecommunications system can remain stable and available to all. On that note, they propose using landlines and fixed internet access when possible, so that the mobile network would not be overloaded.

Both the HT and the A1 Hrvatska telecom gave its private and business users a certain quantity of data traffic free of charge. The two telecoms, along with the Tele2 Hrvatska telecom, stated that the high levels of use during the summer have not yet been reached.

The A1 Hrvatska telecom emphasises the extremely high quality of their communications infrastructure which ensures reliability and stability of their networks during the coronavirus crisis.

“During the last few days, we have registered double the voice traffic than usual in particular moments, which is expected, considering the fact that many companies have adapted to the situation and introduced work from home,” the A1 telecom stated, adding that they registered an increase in traffic in multimedia services and streaming platforms as well.

Additionally, they noticed that many users watched the HRT3 and SPTV TV channels, where school classes are being broadcast, both live and on demand, as well as various children’s channels.

The Tele2 Hrvatska telecom stated that telecommunications were one of the key strategic sectors necessary for the society to function, especially in the current emergency. The company says that its networks are currently under considerable strain, but that their capacity is still large enough to meet the existing needs of their users.

“We are entirely focused on enabling our users to communicate, and a part of our employees is always working on maintaining business continuity and service supply, taking into consideration health safety of our employees in the current epidemiological situation in the country,” the Tele2 stated.

They think that the competent state authorities would reach decisions in line with social responsibility, which would keep citizens at home. Consequently, they expect additional increases in network traffic, for which their experts are already preparing, in order to increase capacity in all key points of the Tele2 network.

“Regardless of extraordinary circumstances and unexpected changes which are affecting our business environment, Tele2 is carefully following the influence of the social situation on network capacities, and, therefore, we make all our decisions with the aim to ensure long-term network stability and undisturbed communication for our users,” the Tele2 telecom stated.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 14 February 2020

New Croatian Telecom Call Centre Opens in Osijek

ZAGREB, February 14, 2020 - A new Croatian Telecom (HT) call centre opened on Friday in Osijek, with the company investing around 2.5 million kuna in the centre, and employing 100 people.

The new call centre, provided with state-of-the-art IT equipment, offers services exclusively to private users of HT fixed-line and mobile phone networks.

Ivan Bartulović, a member of the Croatian Telecom HR management, said that the company employed around 500 people in Osijek, with 400 of them working in call centres. Last year alone, 116 new employees were hired, and around 100 of them in the new call centre, he added.

He emphasised that the company was investing in this part of Croatia, where it wanted to leave its mark, as a part of the Osijek as a 5G city project, in which the HT is taking part by building infrastructure and making numerous other investments, and which should provide for new employment possibilities.

"With all of this we are achieving HT's purpose, and that is to secure connections, the Internet, and equal opportunities in all parts of Croatia, whether they are small or large communities," stated Bartulović.

More news about Croatian Telecom can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Croatia to Define Criteria for 5G Equipment Suppliers by Year's End

ZAGREB, February 1, 2020 - Following the European Commission's recommendations on 5G networks, the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM) will define criteria for equipment suppliers wishing to operate on the Croatian market and will award frequencies for 5G by the end of the year, the regulator told Hina.

Earlier this week, the European Commission and the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) unveiled the so-called Toolbox for 5G, a joint response by all EU member states to possible cybersecurity risks related to the rollout of 5G networks.

Risks were assessed both at national level and at EU level, and HAKOM coordinated the risk assessment in Croatia.

The national task force coordinated by HAKOM now has to select tools from the EU Toolbox and define criteria for equipment manufacturers and suppliers that wish to operate in Croatia, while domestic operators will be able to purchase equipment and solutions from all manufacturers that meet the set criteria.

"As far as we know, all equipment manufacturers are interested in the Croatian market and we expect them to take the requirements that will be set before them seriously," HAKOM said, adding that it is important that Croatia coordinates its activities with other member states and that they all follow the joint methodology.

A public consultation on the award of frequency bands was held between 18 October 2019 and 20 January 2020, and HAKOM plans to award frequency bands for the implementation of 5G technology by the end of this year.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

U.S. Official Warns Croatia to Be Careful When Choosing 5G Network Equipment

ZAGREB, January 25, 2020 - The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and Communications, Robert Strayer, said in Zagreb on Friday that the Croatian government and the private sector should take care when choosing the providers of equipment for the development of 5G network and services.

Advising Zagreb to be careful when selecting providers, he explained that this was important so that the country could protect itself against cyber-attacks and data insecurity in a timely fashion.

During his short stay in Zagreb, the US official held talks with representatives of local regulators, after which he held a news conference at which he said that during the procurement of equipment for the development of mobile networks and data security, one should take heed of potential future security risks.

Strayer says that Washington continues urging other countries to stick to clear criteria about the country of origin of software and hardware providers and in this context, he pointed out the criterion of the rule of law. This is necessary so as to avoid situations in which a government requests certain data from providers but they decline to provide them, he said.

Strayer criticised China for insufficient protection of both data and users of equipment made in that Asian country.

With the advent of the 5G network, which will offer plenty of useful public services, the security aspect is becoming more and more important, not only for governments and operators but also for all people, Strayer said.

According to him, Croatia and the USA share close views on a number of topics, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, development of web services, digital technology and so on.

The USA finds cybersecurity to be one of the most important topics in the present-day world and Strayer visited Zagreb to become acquainted with the steps Croatia was taking in that regard.

When it comes to the development of the 5G network, companies such as Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson have great opportunities and the Zagreb-headquartered Ericsson Nikola Tesla certainly has a role in that, and all of them are producers of terminal and other equipment for mobile and fixed networks outside China, said the U.S. official.

The USA wants to cooperate with the European Union and European countries in the provision of equipment, including providers and telecom companies, with the aim of improving the security of data and networks, said Strayer.

He conveyed his country's concern over the use of technology made in China, mentioning Huawei and its products in EU member-states but also praised the EU and its member-countries for discussing the issue extensively and being able to control the supply.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Croatian Startup DotMetrics to Provide Web Analytics for British Websites

ZAGREB, January 21, 2020 - DotMetrics, a Croatian startup, has become the official web analytics system for British websites, winning the tender advertised by UK Online Measurement Ltd. (UKOM), a company established by Britain's leading publishers and advertisers, announced the startup on Tuesday.

DotMetrics won the tender in cooperation with Ipsos, one of the leading providers of advanced market research expertise in the world, leaving behind some of the top players on the global market of data collection, such as the US company comScore, announced the startup. DotMetrics added that it is officially taking over on 1 January 2021, and that it has signed a 5-year contract.

The startup did not reveal the value of the contract but according to unofficial sources, the job will bring in €40 million in 5 years.

DotMetrics said that so far it had provided web analytics services for neighbouring countries and that this was their first job in the West European market, with the UK being a special challenge to Croatian analysts as it was the largest advertising market in Europe and the third largest advertising market in the world.

"The Internet is by far the most important advertising channel in the UK, and budget allocation depends on the high-quality data. Furthermore, Great Britain is the 'Champion's League' of Internet advertising," DotMetrics CEO Jan Jilek said, adding that winning the tender for such a contract was a matter of prestige and an excellent reference for the future.

On that note, the startup has already begun negotiations on entering other European markets. Jilek points out that Croatia will remain the DotMetrics' hub, and that it will perform the analytics from Zagreb, meaning that the number of employees will rise more than three-fold. The number of employees is expected to continue growing in the coming years.

DotMetrics is an originally Croatian methodology developed by the FistNet company and Ipsos Adria, and it gathers website traffic data by marking and storing the whole traffic of a particular website and connecting it to demographic data from surveys and basic research.

More IT industry news can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 25 November 2019

APIS IT Shared Services Centre Opened

ZAGREB, November 25, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković opened the APIS IT Shared Services Centre on Monday, a 362 million kuna project marking 55 years of the operation of this strategic company.

The Shared Services Centre (CDU), which is government 'cloud' IT infrastructure, will combine an enormous quantity of government data and facilitate data management with the ultimate goal of enabling the state to function without paper, which should lead to savings of 50%.

It was underscored at the opening ceremony that 85% of the project's value is being financed from EU funds, and that by the project's finalisation, expected in 2023, 300 state administration institutions will have been encompassed.

The project represents digital work stations for 110,000 civil servants in state administration who will have access to the CDU.

Congratulating API IT on its 55 years of work, Plenković underscored that this was a big infrastructure project for the state because digitisation and digital transformation was important for economic growth and better services for citizens.

"Both APIS IT and its Shared Services Centre, along with the Administration Ministry as its partner in the project, as well as the entire government, are working on a more efficient, transparent and responsible state administration which is something beneficiaries expect. This is also important for global competitiveness and we already have digital services for citizens and are introducing new ones," added Plenković.

Plenković said that work was under way on digitising the health, judicial, heritage and other systems in the country, noting that during this government's term, Croatia had climbed four places on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), adding that some 40 digitisation projects worth more than 1.3 billion kuna were currently under way.

Administration Minister Ivan Malenica said that the state currently had projects valued at more than HRK 500 million, including e-business, e-surcharges, e-signatures and e-stamps, aimed at reforming the state administration.

For over 50 years APIS IT LLC has provided strategic, professional and implementation services to the public and government sector organisations in planning, development, support and maintenance of their information systems.

APIS IT is the State Electoral Commission's main partner. It employs 460 people, and was founded by the Zagreb City Assembly in 1964. Zagreb owns 49% of the company's shares and the state the remaining 51%.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Ericsson Nikola Tesla Marks 70th Anniversary

ZAGREB, November 7, 2019 - Ericsson Nikola Tesla (ERNT) on Thursday marked its 70th anniversary and on that occasion, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that the company had been setting a positive example for the domestic business community for years.

"We can be proud of having such a company in a sector that is crucial for the development of technologies," Grabar-Kitarović said at the anniversary-marking ceremony, noting that companies like ERNT raised the level of competitiveness of the Croatian economy and that Croatia needed the competence, excellence, innovation and social responsibility that characterised the company.

ERNT president Gordana Kovačević said that the company was the first on the list of domestic exporters of know-how. Its experts contribute to the development of ICT and promote Croatia and its people that way, she said, adding that the company was oriented to the future and creation of new opportunities, that it constantly researched and developed new solutions and that it had become a strong research and development centre.

Kovačević also expressed hope that Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU would help create new opportunities for research and development and boost the competitiveness of the ICT sector.

Economy Minister Darko Horvat, who also addressed the event, said that in the last three years 9.8 billion kuna had been invested in research and development, while in 2018 investments totalled 3.7 billion, 18.7% more than the year before.

This year, investments in research and development will amount to 1% of GDP, he said.

The former Nikola Tesla company was founded in Zagreb on 31 October 1949. At the time, it employed 113 workers. Opting for the production of automatic telephone exchanges, in 1953 the company signed a licence agreement with Ericsson thus becoming one of its first licence partners in the world. In the late 1950s, the company started with first exports, to the former Soviet Union.

Since its establishment the company has been one of the biggest suppliers of telecommunications solutions in Central and Eastern Europe.

In the early 1990s more intensive activities were launched to transform and privatise the until then socially-owned company. Eventually Ericsson and the Croatian Privatisation Fund in 1995 signed an agreement on the sale of a 49.07% stake in Nikola Tesla, which made Ericsson its biggest single owner.

Small shareholders obtained ownership of 49.98% of the company's shares while the Croatian Privatisation Fund kept the ownership of a 0.95% interest.

In the last 20 years ERNT has built its reputation as a supplier of modern ICT products, solutions, software and services and it has operated, on an equal footing with other members of Ericsson, in the field of modern communications technologies and creation of global communications trends.

ERNT is a leading domestic ICT company employing more than 3,200 mostly highly educated workers. More than 1,500 of its employees work in the biggest domestic research and development centre. ERNT is the leading exporter in the country.

According to its latest financial report, in the first nine months of 2019 ERNT earned HRK 80.8 million in consolidated net profits, an increase of 29.6% from the same period of last year.

Sales amounted to 1.25 billion kuna, up 16% from the same period of last year. Domestic sales accounted for 24.4% of total revenues, services for Ericsson accounted for 60.6% while exports to other markets accounted for 15% of total revenues.

More news about Ericsson NT can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 21 October 2019

HGK Hosts DigitalEurope Summit

ZAGREB, October 21, 2019 - Croatia's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry generates revenue growth every year, and as an industry of the future it can set in motion serious changes, a National Trade Association (NTA) summit of DigitalEurope, the organisation that represents the digital technology industry, was told in Zagreb on Monday.

The summit, hosted by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), is taking place on Monday and Tuesday and has brought together the chief executives of its member organisations. Zagreb was chosen because Croatia assumes the six-month rotating European Union presidency on January 1 and because the HGK is a member of DigitalEurope.

"The purpose of the meeting is to emphasise the impact of digital transformation on economic development and social prosperity. The Croatian ICT industry is facing a lot of challenges because no other sector in the country attracts so many investments and has such a multiplier effect on all other branches of the economy. As an industry of the future it also has a chance to set in motion serious changes in the country," said the head of the HGK Industry Division, Tajana Kesić Šapić.

She presented the Digital Chamber project, which aims to increase access to services through digitisation of the HGK's business.

The meeting was also presented with data from the InfoTrend company according to which the ICT industry in Croatia in 2018 performed much better than the overall economy.

In 2018 Croatia's ICT industry generated 36.9 billion kuna in total revenue, an increase of 3.1 billion kuna or 9.4 percent compared with 2017. Of this amount, 1.8 billion kuna (+7%) was generated in Croatia and 1.3 billion kuna (+19%) abroad. The exports were mostly driven by micro-businesses, i.e. programmers either in domestic or in foreign ownership.

The Director-General of DigitalEurope, Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, said that meetings like this were an opportunity to discuss important strategies for digitisation that would later be included in European legislation.

She said that many leading corporations still mostly followed debates concerning national legislation and that it was very important for them to be aware of what was happening in Brussels because it was there that policies were made and later incorporated into national legislation.

More news on the IT industry can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

In 14 Years, Tele2 Attracts over a Million Users

ZAGREB, October 17. 2019 - The telecommunications company Tele2 Croatia, which started doing business in Croatia on this day 14 years ago, stated on Thursday that in the third quarter of 2019, it recorded a 6 percent rise in revenues to HRK 405 million.

The number of customers of this telecom exceeded a million.

The company recalls that when it started its operation in Croatia on 17 October 2005, a minute of mobile phone conversation cost as much as a loaf of bread. Subsequently tariffs and costs of mobile telephony were reduced by 60%. The reduction of prices was one of the aims of this third telecommunications operator on the Croatian market.

Tele2 Croatia management board chairman, Viktor Pavlinić, today presented some of the financial results and expressed satisfaction of the telecom's performance.

For instance. in the first nine months of 2019, Tele2 Croatia experienced an 8-percent rise in revenues to 1.2 billion kuna. Capital investments skyrocketed by 128% to 116 million kuna.

The number of employees rose by 45% (or by 109) to 351.

More IT industry news can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

HT Invests 1 Billion Euro in Croatia's Digital Infrastructure

ZAGREB, September 7, 2019 - Hrvatski Telekom (HT) has invested over 7.5 billion kuna (1 billion euro) in digital infrastructure in Croatia in the last four years, providing households, businesses and the public sector with better and faster access to the Internet and digital content, CEO Kostas Nebis said in the coastal city of Šibenik on Friday, adding that more investment projects are planned.

"I really believe that through investment HT, being a large company, can contribute even more to society, economic development and the digital economy in Croatia, but that would also require the government to reduce parafiscal taxes, especially the right of way and radio frequency charges," Nebis said at an annual meeting with the press, his first since taking over the company's helm four months ago.

"The construction of mobile and fixed convergence networks and services, simplification and digitisation of user experience, and development of HT as a digital company with the adoption of new technologies are our main development goals, along with the further development of broadband services and ICT," Nebis said.

Management board member Boris Drilo said that HT's largest project was the comprehensive modernisation of the mobile network, which is due to be completed by the end of year. His colleague Saša Kramar said that HT had so far digitised over 30 percent of domestic companies with over 25,000 employees, and carried out over 10 "smart cities" projects.

More news about IT sector in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

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