This week I had the pleasure of returning to Belgrade and the relatively short 80 minute flight from Rome. I avoided the lure of in-flight wifi this time, heading to the Serbian capital for something just a little bit faster.
Some background first since in a previous LinkedIn blog post I mentioned it was the taxi driver who generally sets the scene for any new country I visit and what to expect. However, national airlines are also seen by me as ambassadors to their country, and AirSerbia certainly ticked some of the right boxes for me during my first ever trip to the country back in August. Well let’s be honest, one of those boxes was on-board wifi and as we know this should hold a permanent position on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!
Possibly some of you reading this think of Serbia as a war-torn nation, and yes there are still many buildings that bear the scars of the 1999 NATO bombing. In fact Belgrade is one of the most coveted cities in the world having been occupied or destroyed over 40 times in the past 2000 years! The reality is of course somewhat different now.
It’s home to more than 7,500 companies in the IT sector and now one of the most important information technology centers in Southeast Europe. The Balkans are gradually becoming an active testing ground with our customers keen to work with us more on transforming their existing network and introduce more leading edge digital technologies for their customers.
One of those supporting this is the incumbent telco operator Telekom Srbija, also known as mts. This week they became the first operator in the country to demonstrate 5G, the next generation of mobile networks, to an impressed audience of authorities and media, using our prototype test bed to achieve a maximum speed of 27Gbps.
During his speech at the event, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić announced the plan is to introduce a 5G network in Serbia by 2020 and that the state is already preparing for this technological revolution. This is an important statement and he spoke also about how this in turn will create opportunities for the development of new business activities and will bring multiple benefits to already existing industries.
While the demonstration provided a glimpse into the future and how 5G will enable people, industries and things to connect on an unprecedented scale, it was a comment CTO Filip Banković made to me after that really hit home.
“Technology works but it’s up to us humans to make it work the right way and to bring the value out of it for all of us.”
In years to come it will be interesting to see how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs also evolves for such a connected future, and maybe wifi on a plane will be a distant memory.