There seems to be some confusion around the future of 5G in Albania. Less than a year ago, Vodafone, supported by Prime Minister Edi Rama seemed set to launch the network throughout the country, yet fast forward a few months and the situation seems to have changed.
In November 2019, Vodafone announced the introduction of 5G in Albania. “Vodafone Albania has marked a historic moment for the electronic communications market, being the first operator to bring the 5G experience to Albania,” read a public statement.
A month earlier, the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) had announced they had installed the equipment of Vodafone Albania with a 5G testing license. Vodafone was authorized to use the frequencies 3600-3800 Mhz for measurement, research and testing. This license remained in place until December 2019.
According to Vodafone, Prime Minister Rama was one of the first to try out the 5G service and he said it was “fantastic”. Ram himself wrote on Facebook that “today starts in Albania the industrial revolution on 5G technology,” again endorsing the presence of the technology in the country.
But few months later, on 16 April 2020, Rama said that there are no 5G antennas and that they will not be allowed: “I have never heard greater idiocy than this. There are no 5G antennas in Albania and the debate over 5G is well-known. It is known that Albania has had a very clear position on the issue”.
But on the same day, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy in the National Plan for Sustainable Development of Digital Infrastructure Broadband 2020-2025, noted that a 5G network will be constructed in the country.
The document also clearly states that Albania as an EU candidate country has committed to synchronizing its national electronic communications policies with those of the EU. The report lays out several aims including facilitating the timely launch of the network, reducing the complexity of building permits, addressing environmental issues, and promoting awareness of the benefits of 5G technology.
At an EU level, the European Commission has set target dates of 2020 for commercial launch across the Member States and 2025 for roll-out in cities and along major transport paths.
Exit contacted Vodafone Albania on three separate occasions to inquire as to the status of the current 5G situation in Albania. We asked what 5G services Vodafone was planning to offer in the next 12 months and whether there are any 5G antennas in Albania or any plans for them and where they will be located.
Vodafone has, to date, failed to respond to any of the questions sent to them.