Telecommunications operators face an inevitable reality – their traditional sources of income disappear and will never again be as profitable as they were in the past. It is about voice data transmission through fixed and mobile networks: the main share in every telco’s income until now. During the past year, however, two out of the three main telecommunications operators in Bulgaria: Mobile Tel and Globul report a decrease in their incomes from voice data transmission. The third biggest mobile operator Vivacom, for its part, reports an increase in its mobile subscribers, but a decrease in fixed phone subscribers. This is what data of the Annual Report Project of the Communications Regulation Commission on the State of Bulgarian Telecommunications market shows. The Commission on Protection of Competition has already expressed its position on the project, where it is reported that during the past year competition environment of this market has considerably improved.
Improvement of competition
For the first time in the 2010 report of the Communications Regulation Commission more attention is given not to the kind of networks existing on the market, but to the services they provide. Information on electronic communications’ market structure given in the report project is different compared to the one in previous years, as the new market segments include 6 main groups of electronic communication services. Income from access when offering bundle services for example is differentiated in a separate market segment that takes 3.2%nmarket share, while during the past years convergence has been part of the respective segments divided according to the services provided. According to the Commission on Protection of Competition several events of the past year have had a positive influence on competition and users, among which imposing price limits on use of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company’s network, finalizing rules for number transfer, decrease in prices for conversations with networks, different from the user’s network, etc.
However, income generated by operators’ traditional services decrease. In 2010 Mobile Tel loses 1.6% of its market share in mobile voice phone services based on income and Globul 1.1%. "The tendency of decrease in income generated by voice services is not a phenomenon typical only for Bulgaria, but it is being observed in the whole world", this is what Globul said in front of Pari newspaper. Only Vivacom has managed to increase its market share with 2% based on subscribers and with 2.7% based on income. This can be attributed to the company’s later penetration on this market. "The company reports 17% increase in income generated by mobile services for the first three months of 2011 compared to the same period of 2010" say from Vivacom. Mobile operators’ market share takes into account sim cards that are not actively used as well, that contributes to giving wrong statistics", warns Krasen Iotov, analyzer in Industry Watch. "Only Telcos know what part of their clients is active", he adds.
According to data of the Communications Regulation Commission, during 2010 the number of Internet providers increased with 11%, reaching 592 enterprises. A week ago the executive director of Vivacom, Bernar Moskeni said, that according to his data the number of Internet providers exceeds 1000, 40% of which operate in the grey sector. "It is difficult to put a number on Internet providers, as in smaller towns every neighbourhood has a different provider", asserts Krasen Iotov as well. The number of Internet users has also increased with 14% and currently 1.135 million Bulgarians surf in the global network. During the past year the greatest share was the one of LAN access subscribers (41.55%), followed by ADSL subscribers (24.52%) and the mobile access to Internet subscribers (18.5%).
Mobile phone Internet connection
Mobile access to Internet will probably be Telcos’ strongest weapon. Competition between the first three is getting more severe by the day and discussions on whose data transmission network is the best are getting more and more serious. According to the Communications Regulation Commission the active subscribers of the three mobile operators, who use Internet access bundles through the 3G network are 265 thousand, a 120% increase compared to the previous year. Mobile Internet income starts being a more important factor for Vivacom and currently generates 20% of the income from mobile services in the company compared to less than 15% the previous year. "Part of the mobile operator’s strategy includes offering even more accessible end devices. An example for this is the current campaign promoting smart phone prices, starting from 1 Euro per month", say from Globul. According to Krasen Iotov, despite the crisis during the past year and this year the development of mobile access to Internet seems unharmed. This promises to become the main battlefield in the war for supremacy on the mobile market.