The largest technology companies are the telecommunications companies Makedonski Telekom and А1 Macedonia. Both are fully or majority-owned by foreign companies.
Makedonski Telekom is the successor to the former state company PTT Makedonija (post, telegraph, telephone), which after its division in 1996 was renamed Makedonski Telekomunikacii (Macedonian telecommunications).
In 2001, the majority stake in this was sold to the Hungarian telecommunications company Matav, which was already owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom. This company remains the ultimate beneficial owner of the majority package of shares. Makedonski Telekom, in turn, operates under the well-known T brand of Deutsche Telekom. One-third of the shares are still state-owned, with which the Macedonian government has the right to appoint members to the Board of Directors.
Board seats come with high salaries. Because of this, these positions are among of the most attractive appointments for the political parties in government coalitions. Currently, the members of the Management Board of Makedonski Telekom appointed by the government are: Igor Milev and Nina Angelovska, from the Social Democrats, SDSM, and Sadula Duraki, Aqif Mehdiu, Bardul Nasufi and Shkodrane Darlishta, from ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.
A1 Macedonia is fully owned by Telekom Austria. It has changed ownership several times, but it has always been in foreign hands. Beginning in 2003, the company was established under the Cosmofon brand owned by the Greek Kosmote, becoming the second mobile operator in the country. Then the company was taken over by Telekom Slovenija and rebranded as ONE. However in 2007, Telekom Austria also opened its own mobile operator in the country under the VIP brand. In 2015, the merger of ONE and VIP formed A1 Macedonia. The Macedonian state has never had a stake in this company or its predecessors.
Data from the market analysis of the Agency for Electronic Communications AEK, reveal the dominance of these two companies. They cover 93 per cent of the landline market, 96 per cent of mobile telephony, 96 per cent of mobile Internet, 75 per cent of fixed internet provision and 63 per cent of radio and TV transmission services.
Of the more than 80 companies that offer one or more of these services, according to AEK data, only Robi company (better known as Telekabel) is a serious competitor to the two major telecommunications companies, occupying 12 per cent of the fixed internet market and 19 per cent of the market with TV and radio services. All other companies have insignificant shares of the market.
Telecommunications companies are regulated by the AEK and operate under the Electronic Communications Law. There have been no disagreements between the telecommunications companies and state institutions. So far, there have been no known cases of mass misuse of user data. However, the companies’ role in the scandal of mass illegal wiretapping done by the secret police from 2008 to 2015 was never investigated. In other words, it remains unclear whether they knew about, and participated in, these secret operations.
The work of the largest technology companies is rarely the subject of critical scrutiny. They are among the biggest advertisers in the media market, so reporting on these companies has often been reduced to broadcasting their promotional announcements or covering their philanthropic, environmental and other actions.
In 2019 and 2020, there was a conflict between operators offering TV and radio services, including the telecommunications companies and television stations that have national concessions. The conflict arose because of changes to the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services. The television broadcasters demanded that the operators be legally obliged to rebroadcast their programs and pay them a fee. This was not acceptable to the operators. In protest, the broadcasters turned off the signal of their domestic channels for an hour each day.
There are 438,586 landlines in the country, of which 384,461 are domestic and 54,125 for business use. The number of active subscribers in mobile telephony is 1,932,871, which means that on average there is more than one mobile phone number per inhabitant. Of these, 944,394 are private postpaid numbers, 739,078 are private prepaid numbers and 249,399 are business postpaid numbers. Mobile internet is used by 1,458,377 subscribers, or 75 per cent of the citizens who have a mobile phone.
AEK data show that the total revenues of the electronic communications market for 2022 (the latest available data) amounted to 19,140,511,000 denars, or $326,630,437.
If the total revenues of the two largest telecommunications companies for that year are added up according to the declared annual accounts, a larger figure is obtained: 21,091,251,595 denars or $359,919,583 (Makedonski Telekom AD had an income of 11,826,937,787 denars/$201,825,221, while A1 Macedonia had an income of 9,264,313,808 denars/$158,094,362).
The reason for this difference is that the operators also perform other services, such as the sale of electronic devices (telephones, televisions, computers), usually as part of packages for users. There is no publicly available data on how much of their income comes from telecommunications and how much from other services, making it impossible to calculate their total market share.
The profit of Makedonski Telekom AD was 1,667,793,739 denars/$28,460,692, and 832,703,997 denars/$14,209,990 for A1 Macedonia.
Analysis done by Kepios shows that 1.2 million people in North Macedonia use social networks. Facebook has the largest number of users – 914,000, followed by another Meta product, Instagram with 711,000. LinkedIn has 320,000 members in the country, and Twitter has 131,000.
Yearly report on the development of the market in 2022. Agency for electronic communications. (2023). Accessed on: 15/11/2023.
Digital 2023: North Macedonia. Kepios. (2023). Accessed on: 13/10/2023.
Cable operators announced turning off all foreign and domestic channels – except for MTV [Кабелските оператори најавија исклучување на сите странски и домашни канали – освен МТВ] 24 Vesti. (2020). Accessed on: 13/10/2023.
Има согласност од кабелските оператори да го одложат прекинот на реемитување на телевизиите, тврди владата [The cable operators agree to postpone the suspension of rebroadcasting of the televisions, the government claims] SDK.mk. (2020). Accessed on: 13/1