The initiative pursues a highly collaborative approach encouraging participation from telecom and energy ministries, regulators, transmission system operators, and internet service providers. It is expected that in a year’s time, regional governments will be fully informed on their strategic options regarding whether and how to pursue a strategy for sharing regional infrastructure with neighboring countries.
Collaboration between the electricity and telecom sectors is a natural fit. Through their transmission grids, electric utilities in the Balkans are already reaching many end-users that telecom companies would like reach, and both sectors stand to benefit by sharing unused fibre.
The Western Balkans lacks wide-ranging, high-speed broadband internet coverage due to the region’s mountainous terrain, demographic patterns, and recent history of armed conflicts – which left the telecom infrastructure patchy. At the same time, the region’s demand for broadband as an enabler for other information and communication technologies (ICT) and digital transformation is only projected to increase, driven by population and economic growth.