Hrvatski Telekom (HT) switched on Croatia’s first commercial 5G network
Hrvatski Telekom (HT) switched on Croatia’s first commercial 5G network in late October in parts of six major cities: Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, Osijek, Samobor and Sveta Nedelja. At launch, 18% of the Croatian population was covered with the 5G network, with plans to increase coverage up to 25% of the population, meaning 1 million people, by the end of 2020. Customers on selected tariffs and with a 5G-capable device can access 5G services at no extra charge until June 2021.
The Hrvatski Telekom’s 5G network is based on Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology, which enables the current use of existing frequencies for 5G. Hrvatski Telekom has launched on 2100MHz bands while awaiting the upcoming 3.5 GHz auction rescheduled for 2021. In fact, the Croatian Regulatory Agency for Network Operations postponed the auction of 5G-capable spectrum in the 700MHz, 3.6GHz and 26GHz bands from June 2020 until the first half of 2021. The regulator was looking to allocate 5G spectrum by the end of 2020 but argued the COVID-19 outbreak caused a delay to the migration of TV broadcasts from the 700MHz range and impacted operators’ finances and investment plans. The regulator opened a new consultation in September 2020 into its plans to allocate spectrum in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands. The spectrum, currently used for 2G, 3G and 4G services, has been harmonised at the European level for use in 5G networks.
The start of the 5G network operations is a culmination of significant investments and numerous activities Hrvatski Telekom has undertaken over the years with the preconditions for its launch met with the completed modernization of the mobile network. Hrvatski Telekom selected Ericsson Nikola Tesla, in June 2020, as its sole 5G RAN supplier under a contract, which runs until 2024.