Bulgaria - Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts
FttP subscriber base shows annual growth over 110%
Bulgaria’s telecoms market in recent years has been affected by the poor macroeconomic climate as well as consumer trends which have led to the continuing decline in fixed-line voice services and placed stress on messaging services. These consumer patterns are likely to continue into 2015, leading to lower revenue for operators, though there are considerable opportunities for them to develop popular bundled packages. The adoption of EU regulatory measures has created a stable regulatory environment, attracting much foreign investment in the sector. The incumbent Vivacom has been privatised, and the government no longer holds the ‘golden share’ which had enabled it to veto certain key decisions. The liberalised market has attracted new market entrants although Vivacom remains the dominant player.
The broadband market benefits from excellent cross-platform competition, including DSL, cable, FttX, WiMAX and LAN-based services. The country has undertaken steps to develop an internet society encompassing commerce, health and government services. Cable TV penetration is well above the EU average and the market has undergone considerable consolidation. Digital TV is also widely available via broadband TV and satellite. The incumbent Vivacom has invested in fibre networks, and by September 2014 its infrastructure reached more than 830,000 premises. The number of fibre subscribers grew 110% in 2013, and similar growth is expected in 2015 as customers migrate from legacy DSL.
Bulgaria has a strong mobile market, served by Telekom Austria’s M-Tel, Telenor’s local unit, and the incumbent Vivacom. Mobile penetration is relatively high, the result of a significant trend for fixed-mobile substitution in recent years. Competition among network operators has intensified given the recent implementation of a streamlined mobile number portability process. Vivacom has also branched into the fixed-line market, acquiring a number of fibre-based broadband internet service providers. Mobile data offerings are focused on mobile broadband, resulting in considerable investment in network upgrades among all players.
Vivacom reports marginal drop in revenue into 2014; regulator signs MoU with Montenegrin telecom regulator to cooperate on reducing cost of telecom services; amended Electronic Communications Act focused on enhancing regulator’s powers; further draft amendments to provide regulator with additional powers; Vestitel begins building second Greece-Bulgaria fibre link; GloBul rebranded as Telenor Bulgaria; Max Telecom launches Bulgaria’s first commercial LTE network; regulator consults on the use of remaining 1800MHz band; MobilTel extends its GSM licence; MNOs fined for MNP non-compliance; HSPA+ coverage extended; mobile sector representing nearly half of all telecom sector revenue; Vivacom reports strong growth in mobile broadband subscriber base; MNP takes off under new regulatory measures; M-Tel extends LTE roll-out; Vivacom makes bid to re-acquire NURTS DTTV provider; Satellite BG ceases broadcasting; new cableco association launched; consolidation among cable TV players; Vivacom increases satellite broadband service to 18Mb/s; government investment program for broadband in rural areas; Vivacom FiberNet offer to reach one million households by end-2014; regulator’s market data updates for 2013; telcos’ operating data to Q3 2014; recent market developments
Companies and subsidiaries mentioned in this report include:
Orbitel, Vestitel, MobilTel, Trans Telecom, Vivacom, Bulgarian Telecom and Television, Blizoo, GloBul, Telenor Bulgaria.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year