It is usual that when the rankings of the countries with the best Internet connections in the world come out, we can see Asian countries in the top, such as Singapore, Hong Kong or South Korea. What has caught our attention is the fifth place, Romania? How it has crept in that position, with 104 Mbps of average, the country of the east of Europe, second of the old continent in the ranking only behind Iceland?
Iceland favors being a country in which the majority of its inhabitants are concentrated in a small number of cities, easily cableable, but in the case of Romania there is not so much concentration of inhabitants. The key of the case that concerns us is in the will of small entrepreneurs, that before the slowness of the historical operator they threw to cable and fiber between facades, to construct small local networks that soon connected to Internet.
The first constitution of Romania dates from 1991, but even being a democratic state the country had a hard time developing its telecommunications networks. It was not until 2005, one after joining the European Union that the incumbent operator, Romtelecom, launched the first ADSL connections. What caused that late arrival of the first large ADSL network? The flowering of operators so small that sometimes they only covered one block.
If Muhammad does not go to the mountain…
Without large investments, neighbors were connecting to each other, sharing their music or playing with each other with directly symmetrical connections. Then came the internet explosion and with the local networks already built, it was only necessary to connect them to an access point so that all users could access the internet. We are talking about the fact that there are currently more than 700 operators registered for a country that does not reach 20 million inhabitants.
The following graph, taken from an extensive ITU analysis on the Romanian case, explains very well how the situation of fixed Internet connections in Romania back in 2006:
It is very curious and striking, although knowing the reason already not so much, that while 11 years ago 83% of the connections of the European countries were xDSL, in Romania the ADSL only represented 9%, for 40% of the cable and the majority fiber, with 51%. And all paradoxically thanks to the slowness of the incumbent operator, who left a precious and valuable space for small operators to make their August.
Eight euros per 1 Gbps symmetric
The current internet situation in Romania has lights and shadows. Only about half of the almost eight million households have a fixed connection to the internet contracted, since outside the big cities there are still areas without fiber , because like in any other country it is much cheaper to deploy networks in areas with high population density than in rural environments.
Even so, the Romanian government has promoted mobile connections as a substitute in those areas without fiber coverage, all with the aim of meeting the goal set from Brussels that every European must be able to connect to the Internet at a minimum of 30 Mbps and half to at least 100 Mbps. But between the fixed connections, the distribution of speed ranges to the first half of 2017 is as follows:
|Between 2 and 10 Mbps||420,000|
|Between 10 and 30 Mbps||600,000|
|Between 30 and 100 Mbps||620,000|
|More than 100 Mbps||2,940,000|
Data obtained from the ANCOM statistics website, Romanian telecommunications regulator.
How is it that, being able to choose between fiber connections of different speeds and prices, Romanians opt for connections of more than 100 Mbps? We just have to go to the RCS & RDS website, one of the largest operators in the country, to see an unbeatable offer: 1000 Mbps download and 500 Mbps upload for 8.43 euros per month. The symmetrical 100 Mbps are little cheaper, 6.05 euros specifically. And beware, mobile connections are not much more expensive, with the same operator you can hire 20 GB for 5.36 euros.
Obviously at this point we can talk about the average salary of a Romanian and what it means from that salary to pay for the connection with a Spanish. According to the statistics of 2015 , in Romania the average salary is 571 euros (in 12 payments) so that eight euros per month is 1.4% of that salary. In Spain the average salary is 2,226 euros per month (also in 12 payments), so one of the cheapest fiber connections ( 50 Mbps Lowi for 30 euros per month ) take 1.34% of salary, an amount close to that of Romania.
Everyone can draw their conclusions, it could be said that it was good for Romania that the main operator was slow when deploying networks, but the Romanian case is a success story for small entrepreneurs and the community, which before the abandonment of large multinationals they knew how to get ahead by their own means.