Even though Macedonia is a small country with a very slow developmental curve, the communication industry is alive and well. When it comes to the internet and mobile networks Macedonia ranks quite well.
The entire sector started to develop during the mid-nineties, when the first network operators in Macedonia entered the market. And although the consumer base is relatively small when compared to other countries, around 2.2 million mobile phone lines are active and over 65% of the population uses the internet on a daily basis.
In the past two decades, the telco market was very turbulent and volatile, resulting in few merges and rebranding campaigns. The quality and versatility of offers and products is continually rising, but the prices unfortunately follow a symptomatically monopolistic curve.
List of mobile operators in Macedonia
There are five operators currently offering their services on the Macedonian market, and they enjoy quite a high coverage across the entire territory of the country. The current internet and mobile operators in Macedonia are:
- A1 Macedonia
- Lycamobile (Only mobile services)
- Neotel (Only internet and TV)
As you can see the List of mobile operators in Macedonia is short, but the market is small as well. With only 2 million people as potential customers, the struggle is to offer the best value for their money. That’s why most of the companies try to sell monthly plans that contain convergent offers including fixed and mobile telephony, fast mobile internet, fast broadband home internet, and TV services. These combo packages offer various discounts when services are sold together, as well as reduced prices on smartphones and other equipment.
History of phone and internet providers in Macedonia
In order to understand the current state of the market, and the brand names covering Macedonia today, we have to take a retrospective look. The country went under a free market rebirth during the last three decades and although the need for more competition and less regulation is still in place, the market is doing relatively well.
Unet – the first internet provider
If we go back in the past, around the year of 1995, Unet was the first internet provider in the country, offering one of the best quality ISP’s on the Macedonian Internet market. Unet specialized in creating internet solutions, providing dial-up services, and offering internet access via satellite.
Mobimak – first mobile phone provider in Macedonia
When it comes to mobile operators, Mobimak was the first among the mobile phone providers in Macedonia. The company was created in 1996, and it worked under that name until 2006 when it became T-Mobile. In 2015, T-Mobile and T-Home (Makedonski Telekom – Macedonian Telekom) became one brand know as Telekom. This brand is part of Deutsche Telekom and uses the Group’s corporate identity and design until today.
Telekom’s network codes are 070, 071 and 072.
Brief History of Cosmofon
Second among the phone providers in Macedonia was Cosmofon, owned by the Cosmote Group from Greece. Cosmofon entered the market in 2003, liberating it for the first time by offering different products and services at lower prices.
It worked under that name until 2009, when Cosmofon was bought by Slovenia’s Telekom for 190 million euros. After Slovenia’s Telekom bought Cosmofon, they rebranded the company under the name One. The company worked under that brand name until 2015, when it merged with VIP.
Cosmofon introduced the network codes of 075 and 076.
VIP becomes A1
The third telco operator in Macedonia was VIP, a company that entered the market in 2007. It was real refreshment on the market, especially for prepaid users.
VIP used the network codes 077 and 078.
In 2015 VIP and One, merged into one mobile network operator, one.Vip. The company is now fully rebranded and goes under the name of A1 Macedonia, part of the A1 Telecom Austria Group.
Lycamobile entered the Macedonian telecom market in 2016. This is the world’s biggest virtual mobile operator, which is using the network of A1 Makedonija. The company uses the network code 079. Their best value proposition is the reduced price for roaming calls.
Neotel is a telecommunications operator established in 2004. For over 15 years the company offers a wide range of services in the areas of broadband internet access, fixed telephony, leased lines, hosting and co-location of equipment.
Telekabel is a telecommunication company founded in 1997. It was opened as a cable television operator and internet service provider for cable internet, but as of 2018, the company became a mobile operator that works under the network code 074.
As we mentioned a few times earlier, Macedonia is a small country that enjoys more than decent network coverage. You can get a great reception signal even if you are in the middle of the lake in Ohrid, or on top of Titov peak. The 4G signal is very strong, especially in the cities. The last time I did a speed test in the center of Skopje, the download speed of Telekom was 90 Mbps, while the upload speed was 82 Mbps.
This summer I made a test for the 4G signal in Ohrid with an A1 Macedonia number, according to which the download speed was 117 Mbps, while the upload was around 60. Needless to say, these are great numbers for both companies.
Tourist SIM cards
Both Telekom and A1 offer prepaid SIM cards for tourists, which well at around 8 euros. In both cases, you get a certain amount of minutes available, and a lot of gigabytes to spend surfing, which is quite a sweet deal.
Lycamobile offers something similar, especially if you need an internet package only.
Cost of using mobile services and internet in Macedonia
If you need a postpaid number in Macedonia all companies have great deals especially if you want to get a monthly plan for a convergent package of services. For example, if you want a mobile line with an unlimited number of minutes and SMS messages across all mobile networks in the country, a monthly package of 10GB mobile internet to spend, over 100 TV channels and unlimited high-speed internet at home, you will need to pay around 35 euros a month.
The cost of living in Macedonia is quite low, and the Macedonia mobile operators must offer services within this ballpark. That is why most tourists are surprised when they look at the pricing plans.
If you just need mobile phone services, you will only have to pay 10 to 13 euros, which compares very favorably to Western prices. There are many storefronts across populated areas where you can find a representative who will help you to sign a deal or get a pre-paid mobile number. Most employees in telecom companies understand and speak English so don’t hold back – get a number or a monthly package and start enjoying the freedom of a fairly generous or unlimited service.
An outdoor junkie and an adventurous spirit who loves the mountain. Slavko regularly talks about travel, lifestyle design, holistic health and fitness. You can find his writings on popular magazines around the net, and his regular guides and columns in The Lifestyle Updated.