Until recent years, Bulgaria’s telecoms market was affected by the country’s difficult macroeconomic climate, as well as by relatively high unemployment and a shrinking population. These factors contributed to steadily declining revenue across the sector until strong recovery returned in 2018. There remains pressure on revenue growth, with consumers continuing to migrate from fixed-line voice telephony to mobile and VoIP alternatives, while the volume of SMS and MMS traffic has been affected by the growing use of alternative OTT messaging services.
The mature mobile market has effective competition between A1 Bulgaria, Telenor Bulgaria (sold to the PPF Group in August 2018) and the incumbent telco Vivacom. Competition intensified following the implementation of a streamlined mobile number portability process. In addition, customer preference for bundled services has put pressure on pricing and encouraged operators to offer generous voice and data packages. This in turn has impacted on operator revenue.
Vivacom was sold to United Group in April 2020, following European Commission approval. The company is investing in network upgrades and its development of services based on 5G have stimulated other market players to invest in their own service provision. A1 Bulgaria and Vivacom both launched commercial 5G services in 2020.
The broadband market in Bulgaria enjoys excellent cross-platform competition. The share of the market held by DSL has fallen steadily as a result of customers being migrated to fibre networks, particularly those operated by the incumbent telco Vivacom. By early 2020 about 65% of Vivacom’s fixed-line broadband subscribers were on fibre infrastructure.
This report provides an overview of Bulgaria’s fixed-line telecom market, including data on regulatory developments, the strategies of the major operators and an assessment of the evolution of fixed-line networks. The report also reviews the mobile voice and data segments; including a variety of statistics and analyses covering the major operators, market developments and services offered. In addition, the report covers the fixed-line and fixed-wireless broadband sectors, includes an assessment of technologies, the major players, market developments and statistics as well as subscriber forecasts.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a dtownturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G has been postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for remote working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
The Bulgarian mobile services market revenue continued to grow in the third quarter of 2020, despite the declining roaming revenues because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Fixed-line service revenues were again driven by upselling in the broadband segment, enriched TV content and remote working corporate solutions. Competition is increasing and consumers are reaping the benefits as operators enhance their offerings.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of e-health and e-education, among other solutions.
Vivacom, Orbitel, Vestitel, A1 Bulgaria (MobilTel), Telenor Bulgaria, PPF Group, Trans Telecom, Blizoo, Max Telecom, T.com, United Group.
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Ken Cregan, Tele-Computercations Pty Ltd
BuddeComm's strategic business reports contain a combination of both primary and secondary research statistics, analyses written by our senior analysts supported by a network of experts, industry contacts and researchers from around the world as well as our own scenario forecasts.
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