OSA | Living History

Edvin Skaljo: My story

Edvin Skaljo

Edvin Skaljo: My story

The 14. Olympic Games bring a new things, new idea and it was a start of opening our communistic society to a rest of world. Four year before the war 92-95, I was in dilemma which faculty to choose. I was facing to Physics or Electrical faculty. I had chosen the last one because Bosnian wasn’t a country where you can live as someone who likes Physics. My choice led me to Banja Luka the second largest city in Bosnia and one of the most beautiful city in the world, but when the war started this city was under Serbian domination; I had to leave this city.

Another Electrical faculty was in Sarajevo, which was under siege by Serbian forces. So I have been must to wait for three year between Banja Luka and Sarajevo. Interesting, Sarajevo and Banja luka has different curriculum, and I had just one book from Sarajevo University, it was Optoelectronics by late professor Milatović. For more than three years I keep a hope that Sarajevo siege will fall and I will be able to continue my Faculty. Until I was waiting I read the book Optoelectronics. 

One year before the end of war I got a chance to work for Bosnia Army in Sarajevo and I moved into besieged Sarajevo. I came over an Olympic mountain Igman and through the tunnel. Under the Sarajevo airport and I arrived in the starving city. Of course I bring the book of Optoelectronic. My travelling over Igman was by walk by night, the landmark was a single cable trench. This cable trench led me to a tunnel under International Airport Sarajevo as only one entrance to besieged Sarajevo.
Fiber optics in Bosnia

As it mentioned the Olympic Game bring new ideas, so three years later (1987) in Sarajevo was installed an optical communication system, it was the first fiber optics system in former Yugoslav. This system was PDH (Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy) based on 34 and 140 Mb/s. Optical cable had 8 SM (Single Mode) cores. Team who installed this cable gained the experience that has been used for the installation of 27 km long fiber-optic cable from the besieged Sarajevo to free territory. As it was mentioned earlier, the cable was laid through the tunnel and over Olympic Mountain Igman which I followed to come to Electrical faculty of Sarajevo.

Two years after my arrival to Sarajevo I finished Electrical faculty of Sarajevo. I started to work in BH Telecom and joined to the team that was responsible for the war optical cable over Igman. I will always remember when one technician, Esad,  told me his experience in maintains of cables during the war. He told that before optical cable over the Olympic mountain Igman BH Telecom had a metallic cable with repeaters every 2 km. And he told they spend a lot of time and effort to maintain this metallic cable, almost every day they had one or more interventions. It should be noted the intervention in the war time on mountain Igman or close to Airport Sarajevo meant to risk his life. Things, dangerous for his life, were changed when the metallic cable was replaced by optical. The Esad’s comment I remember for all my life: move it on fiber optics and forgot for problems.

After the war, we have been must rebuild a destroyed telecommunication system. It was characterized that we didn’t repair old, mainly analogy systems; we used this chance and moved from analogy to digital telecommunication.

Regarding the cable system, instead a repairing the old coax cables we decided to install the fiber optics cables.  It was an enthusiasm time so in less than five years every single telecommunications exchange and each village were connected by fiber optics cable.  After that almost nothing was happening in the field of fiber optics.

In the 15 years after the war we started a fearful FTTH (Fiber to the Home) program.  Before FTTH program I had a chance to visit Japan’s NTT (Nihon Telegraph and Telephony) and to learn about its FTTH project.

 Some of this experience we included in BH Telecom’s GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) project.
Conclusion: Bosnia, fiber optics and me
The enthusiasm that we had after the war has almost disappeared under the influence of corruption, nepotism and lack of imagination power. Bosnia unique society is not yet completely rebuilt.

In the field of fiber optics things are not so better; there are just few thousands of FTTH connections.

I must mention, after the war in five years all analogy systems and coax cables were replaced in 5 years. If we compare it in FTTH for the same time less than 1 % of metallic lines are replaced by fiber optics.

However the experience with this 1% of fiber optics connections is the same as Esad had got during the war:  move it on fiber optics and forgot for problems.

In these days Bosnia government should applied for a membership in European Union so we are facing for our uniqueness and a more open society for new ideas.  In meantime I got the Ph. Degree and still away I have the book of Optoelectronics and always I recommend my students this book for reading.