Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bulgaria - poor quality

Bulgarian telecom services quality poorest in EU, highest prices - EC report

Last year, Bulgaria ranked the poorest EU-wide in terms of quality of telecom services, the European Commission (EC) said in a report on the progress of telecom services released on March 19.

Bulgaria and Romania are the only EU member states without number portability, the EC said.

Despite mobile penetration rate being higher than the EU average, at 123 per cent, mobile telecommunications services are the most expensive in Europe. Calls to alternative cell phone operators and calls from fixed line to mobile phones cost 0.19 euro a minute whereas the EU tariff averages at 0.09 a minute.

Of concern was also the poor competition on the fixed-line market. So was the poor performance of the country's regulator, which the EC believed was neither independent nor efficient. The report “identified a conflict of interest where the Chairperson of the State Agency responsible for telecoms was also a board member of the incumbent operator”, referring to the Commission for Telecommunications Regulation and the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company.

Bulgaria is yet to build the infrastructure for the emergency phone number 112, the EC said. The EC started proceedings against Bulgaria on the issue back in October 2007.

The report also notes that the EU broadband penetration in Bulgaria is the lowest in the EU, at 7.6 per cent whereas the average for the EU was at 20 per cent.

The EC rebuked Bulgaria over the absence of market analyses, which is a must under EU telecom rules and a “main instrument for improving competition”.

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