Croatia’s communication service provider Hrvatski Telekom (HT) has selected Ericsson as its sole supplier of 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and services until 2024. This move will place Croatia in accordance with the EU’s 5G Action Plan, issued in 2016. In fact, Hrvatski Telekom aims to boost digitalization and Industry 4.0 through the innovation opportunities enabled by its 5G network.
Hrvatski’s deal with Ericsson is considered first of its kind in Croatia. However, the companies have collaborated before to modernize Hrvatski Telekom’s radio network. In 2018, Ericsson conducted the first 5G demonstration in the country. “This partnership agreement will enable cutting-edge solutions from Ericsson’s radio system portfolio and the fifth generation of mobile communications to transform the country in the coming period,” said Arun Bansal, Head of Market Area Europe and Latin America at Ericsson according to the company’s press release published on June 24, 2020.
Like many countries in the world, the deployment of 5G in Croatia has been under US scrutiny. Robert Strayer, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and Communications said that Croatia has to be careful when choosing the providers of equipment for 5G deployment. US officials seem to approve Ericsson involvement in Croatia’s 5G plans. “Companies such as Nokia, Samsung, and Ericsson have great opportunities when it comes to 5G development,” he said according to Total Croatia News.
Hrvatski Telekom- the largest private investor in Croatia- was the first to implement a 5G network. “By implementing 5G technology in real conditions we open the door to the 4th industrial revolution and gigabit society in Croatia,” said Boris Drilo, Management Board Member and Chief Technology and Information Officer at Hrvatski Telecom.
In 2017, the Croatian Regulatory Authority created a working group for Network Industries (HAKOM) aiming to identify the 5G deployment challenges. The working group was expected to propose a Croatian Action Plan in accordance with the plan and initiative of the European Commission for the development of the digital single market, according to the Magazine of the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia (No.1/2019).
The Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industry said in a statement published on its website on January 24, 2020, that the Government of the Republic of Croatia has chosen Osijek as a 5G City where the commercial work on 5G technology will begin by the end of the year; Osijek was selected from a shortlist of cities considered for the 5G project: Osijek, Rijeka, Karlovac, and Bjelovar.