Southeastern European countries are still far from EU standards when it comes to liberalisation of their telecommunications markets, broadband penetration and other parameters of modern information societies, a report finds.
The telecommunications market
In relation to their low income, the percentage of their money that people in Southeastern European countries spend on telecommunication is much higher than in the EU-25: Croats and Montenegrins spend around 300 euro each a year for telecommunications, about 50% of what average EU-25 citizens spend.
Most of this money is spent on mobile telephony, with Serbia being the only country in the region where the fixed telephone market is larger than the mobile one.
But even in Serbia the penetration of mobile phones is much higher than with fixed line phones. In Kosovo, the poorest region in Southeast Europe, there are three times as many mobile phones as fixed phones due to a lack of infrastructure.
Where the infrastructure is weak, modern technologies allow increasingly to build your own. For many in Kosovo and in Bosnia-Herzegovina, wireless networks are best for accessing the internet. In other countries with, xDSL connections provided by the incumbent telecom operator are almost the only fast access to the internet. At 0.6 broadband connections per 100 inhabitants in the whole region, penetration is still very bad by EU standards.
Liberalisation of the telecommunications market
Most Southeastern European telecommunication markets have either not been fully liberalised or the liberalisation was not effective. Romania and to a lesser degree Albania are the only countries where alternative operators have managed to gain a considerable market share. In all other countries telephony is effectively a monopoly.
In most countries, the state still holds more than 50% of the incumbent’s shares. In some the telephone companies are still 100% state-owned. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and in the region’s biggest economy, Turkey, fixed-line telephony is effectively a state-owned monopoly.