Czech market displays combined but uneven development

15 June 2016 |

Speaking at the Capacity Central and Eastern Europe conference this week, Jaromir Novak, chairman of the council of the Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU) said that the legacy burden of old networks was proving to be a mixed blessing and the skills shortage was worrying. However, he claimed that both were being tackled with creativity.

He was giving the keynote address on the Czech Republic’s telecoms industry and its position within the overall market.

While the Czech regulatory environment has changed dramatically – it used to be about where to site phone boxes and then how to police the queues – it is now about providing high quality fibre and wireless. There are now only three major GSM operators in the market – O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone and one CDMA player, Air Telecom. So regulation is not difficult. And innovation is still springing forth.

Market share is quite stable but there are quirks to the Czech telco sector which make it interesting. For example, the fixed wireless segment of the market is 35.05% with FTT taking only 14.44% and DSL 26.63%. 

While shortage of skills remains an issue, Novak believes that the skills demographic across all Eastern Europe remains similar. While the various neighbouring states have roughly the same shortages of staff they also have similar problems.

However he said: “The smaller regional players are the ones mostly investing in the new fibre networks and driving change into all areas including rural. When someone gets a flushing toilet they don’t want to go back to an old one – so once people have fibre they use it to the utmost – as soon as you upgrade your network you don’t migrate back. So we can only move forward from here, albeit with some distortions in the market. The legacy burdens of the old networks just don’t seem to be holding us back.”

Novak also noted that Estonia was leaping ahead in facilities such as e-prescriptions to such an extent that it was almost a factor of ten in front of all of its neighbours. Whether this was by design or by accident, he didn’t say, but it does appear to say that where there is a determination to roll-out a particularly beneficial health technology it can be done quickly.