Socioeconomic Benefits of Bulgarian Fiber Broadband
Posted by Veni Markovski on October 15, 2010
In September 2009, the Fiber to the Home Council Europe commissioned a study of the Bulgarian fiber market to evaluate the impact of the FTTB offerings in Bulgaria.
The qualitative and quantitative study was undertaken by Yankee Group, in cooperation with Stratix Consulting and ISOC-Bulgaria, between September and December 2009. The present document describes the main results and examines in particular the socioeconomic impacts of FTTB on Bulgarian broadband users.
We believe that the study may be of interest for a wide number of people from the worldwide Internet community.
The Bulgarian broadband market is atypical in that some of the trends that have been emerging slowly in developed markets over recent decades seem to have played out much faster in Bulgaria. While the country still ranks last in broadband penetration in the EU, the growth in broadband penetration has been strikingly fast in the last few years and has been driven mostly by fiber connectivity. Fifty-five percent of Bulgarian broadband customers enjoy speeds in excess of 10 Mbps, and according to our survey results, approximately 30 percent have fiber to the building (FTTB).
This fast development of FTTB is due in part to the reluctance of incumbent Vivacom to allow any form of unbundling, as well as to the loose regulatory framework around physical network deployment. This has allowed a large number of small entrepreneurs to deploy fiber connectivity to buildings in their own neighborhoods and provide end-users with high-quality connectivity.
To assess the impact of FTTB on socioeconomic well-being in Bulgaria, the Fiber to the Home Council commissioned this study, composed of a quantitative survey administered to over 500 Bulgarian broadband users and complemented by a number of interviews with Bulgarian broadband experts and government officials.
The survey results show that beyond driving broadband availability, FTTB contributes significantly to the well-being of Bulgarian subscribers by providing a higher quality of service.
The survey clearly demonstrates that FTTB users are the most satisfied with their connectivity. Close to 85 percent of FTTB users are satisfied with their broadband, whereas that number is only 75 percent for cable users and 60 percent for DSL users. The differences are even more striking when looking at users who are very satisfied with their connection. Additionally, customers of large FTTB service providers are even more satisfied overall. Also, FTTB users spend more time actually using their broadband, even though the nature of their usage is not significantly different from that of other broadband users.
Connectivity is very important to Bulgarians in their work life: More than 30 percent of employed respondents claim to work from home very often, which suggests that a large proportion of professionals use the Internet as a work tool. A higher proportion of FTTB users work from home often or always (57 percent as opposed to 53 percent), which suggests that FTTB encourages smart working patterns and less commuting. Furthermore, FTTB users attribute more importance to the quality of their broadband when it comes to deciding to work from home.
Another area where broadband affects behavior is in choice of residence, where a majority of Internet users—especially the most experienced ones—state that the quality of available connectivity impacts where they choose to live.
Overall, a majority of Bulgarian Internet users believe that the Internet plays an important role in most aspects of their lives: education, professional occupation, living standard, social life and overall quality of life. Regarding all of these aspects except education, FTTB users rate their quality of life higher than users who don’t have FTTB. This highlights a likely correlation between FTTB and quality of life, especially since FTTB services in Bulgaria are not significantly more expensive than other broadband services and, in some instances, are even cheaper.
This survey establishes a strong connection between fiber broadband and improved quality of life for Internet users in Bulgaria today and suggests that as usage matures, the contribution of fiber broadband to quality of life can only increase.
You can download the full survey here (PDF, 530 Kb)