Broadband & Telecom Market Regulation

16 April 2013

In January 2012, the penetration rate of fixed broadband is 16% of the population, up 1.1 percentage points (p.p.) year-on-year but still 11.7 p.p. below the EU average of 27.7%. Bulgaria is the second country with the lowest penetration level and its year-on-year growth rate was close but below the EU growth rate of 1.2 p.p. . Bulgaria has 84.8% of fixed lines providing speeds of 10 Mbps and above, 22.8% of lines providing speeds between 30Mbps and below 100Mbps and 0.2% of fixed lines providing speeds equal or above 100 Mbps. The percentage of lines above 10Mbps is 36.4 p.p. above the EU average rate of 48.4% of lines in this speed range. Mobile broadband penetration is 14.4%, up by 6.5 p.p. year-on-year but 28.7 p.p. below the EU average. Bulgaria is the second country with the lowest penetration level.

TELECOM MARKET & REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS

This is a summary report of the main Telecom market and regulatory developments for 2011 from 18 june 2012.

Development of the sector


The trend towards diminution of revenues from fixed (telephony, data and internet) and mobile services continued in 2010. However, in contrast to the preceding year, the total investment in the electronic communication sector increased at the end of 2010 by more than 44%.

In 2011, there were 605 players competing in the broadband market. The new entrants' market share continued to increase and in January 2012 reached 70% of all fixed broadband lines. The cable operators' market share remains stable with 14% of all active broadband lines. The alternative operators continue to use mainly non-DSL technologies. There is no competition in the DSL retail market since the incumbent exclusively offers DSL lines. A big obstacle for the development of infrastructure-based competition on the wholesale broadband market remains the deployment of illegal aerial cables.

Whilst the fixed voice market is still dominated by the incumbent (BTC) with a market share by traffic volume of more than 92% in all types of calls at the end of 2010, the trend towards fixed to mobile substitution continued also in 2011. As regards mobile penetration in terms of dedicated data service, Bulgaria is with 3.5% still far behind the EU average of 8.1%. The bundling of fixed and mobile voice as well as triple-play has significantly increased. Despite attempts by the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) to enforce its decision on regulated Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) for incoming international calls, none of the three mobile operators applies the given rates.

In the context of number portability, the time needed for porting fixed and mobile numbers is seven working days.

Progress in Broadband deployment and take-up


At the end of 2011, Bulgaria was still far from achieving the DAE target aiming at securing a basic broadband connection (in the order of 2 Mbps) for all EU households by 2013. Despite some minor increase, the fixed broadband penetration remains the second lowest in the EU. The divide between cable-enabled cities and uncovered rural areas remains particularly strong also in this year. At the same time, Bulgaria continued to be amongst the advanced Member States in the area of very high speed broadband with more than 20% of lines being at least 30Mbps. The investments of fixed alternative broadband operators in the deployment of infrastructure showed remarkable growth as compared to the preceding year.

Independence and effectiveness of the NRA

Overall, the independence of the National Regulatory Authority seems to be ensured. However, there is no explicit legal provision concerning the prohibition of seeking and taking instructions from any other body as provided for in the revised Framework Directive.

Implementation of the framework

In January 2012, Bulgaria notified the full transposition of the revised EU telecom framework which was due by 25 May 2011. The Commission accordingly closed the infringement procedure for non-communication. In September 2011, the Commission closed an infringement procedure against Bulgaria concerning the fixed number portability. At the end of 2011 there was one pending infringement procedure against Bulgaria for failing to comply with the legal requirements laid down in the EU legal framework as regards the allocation of the digital dividend.

Spectrum management

Bulgaria has not yet implemented Commission Decision 2008/477/EC on the harmonized use of the 2.5-2.69 GHz band the prolongation of which from a previous derogation expired at the end of 2011. In 2011, the national regulator granted 3 licenses within the 1800 MHz band.

Consumer protection

In December 2011, the CRC extended by one year the assignment of the harmonized number 116 000. The number 116 111 is operational in Bulgaria since November 2009.

Although the emergency number 112 has been operational in Bulgaria for many years, the level of awareness of 112 as the European emergency number is rather low.

With regard to consumer complaints, a large proportion of complaints was based on problems related to the change of the major mobile operator's billing system (Mobiltel).

Net neutrality was not reported to be an issue in 2011

The process of launching a designation procedure for a universal service provider has further delay due to the recent LEC amendments and the forthcoming amendments of the implementing secondary legislation. For the same reason, a decision by the CRC regarding the compensation of the current designated universal service provider (BTC) for the years 2009 and 2010 is still pending.

No major issues on e-Privacy were reported.