Executive summary

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National strategy for development of broadband access in Republic of Bulgaria

(Adopted by the Council of Ministers on 25 November 2009)



Република България като пълноправна държава-членка на Европейския съюз се включва в изпълнението на стратегическите цели на Лисабонската стратегия - „за да подобри качеството на живота на своите граждани и околната среда до 2010 г. Европейският съюз трябва да се превърне в най-конкурентоспособната и динамична икономика на знанието в света, способна на устойчив икономически растеж, с повече и по-добри работни места и по-добра социална интеграция.Republic of Bulgaria as a Member State of the European Union embraces the strategic objectives of the Lisbon strategy – ‘to improve quality of life of it’s citizens by 2010, the European Union must become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social integration. Гражданите и бизнесът трябва да имат достъп до евтина комуникационна инфраструктура на световно ниво". Citizens and businesses should have access to inexpensive communications infrastructure on a global level’.

Increasingly broadband connectivity is recognised as one of the basic instruments for enabling major improvements in economic and social wellbeing. Widespread, high-speed access can deliver significant increases in GDP, expand employment, increase international competitiveness and improve quality of life.

Broadband connectivity can also enhance community cohesion through novel and enhanced communications as well as deliver better choice and convenience for families and individuals in work and other aspects of daily life.

The aim of the National strategy for development of broadband in Republic of Bulgaria is to present a unified approach to the development of the broadband for the achievement of long-term strategic results. Broadband connectivity is a key component for the development, adoption and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the economy and in society.

National strategy for development of broadband access in Republic of Bulgaria is for the period 2007-2013.


Complying with the definition of the International telecommunications Union (ITU) and the speeds apprehended by the Communications Committee of the European Commission (CoCOM), equal to or higher than 144 Kb/s can be accepted as broadband.

For the purposes of this Strategy, ‘broadband’ can be considered as the access – giving the users the typical on-line experience to voice, data and video services simultaneously with speed equal to or higher than 1 Mb/s.

Technologies for broadband access

The basic technologies for broadband access are the following:

  • Fixed broadband access networks – Digital Subscriber Lines – DSL; Cable TV; Fiber-To-The-Home/Building/Curb; Local Area Network – LAN; Power line communications – PLС.

  • Wireless broadband access networks – Fixed Wireless Access – FWA; Nomadic Wireless Access – NWA and Mobile Wireless Access – MWA; Wireless Local Area Networks; Ultra Wideband; UMTS; CDMA; WiMAX; Digital Video Broadcasting; Satellite technology.

Technologies, which are expected to shift the development of electronic communications of their next evolution level, are:

  • Next Generation Access (NGA) - These networks are mandatory for the provision of new broadband services, as well as video information with high-resolution. In connection with the regulatory issues transition to networks of the next generation will be carried out in a consistent, effective and timely manner.

  • Long Term Evolution (LTE) - It is evolution road of GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA technologies, outlining the development of the next (fourth) generation mobile systems and it will allow commercial data services with a bit rate greater than 100 Mbps. The standard for long-term development can take advantage of the already existing infrastructure, which is accounting for over 86% of the world mobile market with more than 2,8 billion subscribers.

European policy for broadband

i2010: Broadband access for all

The "i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment" initiative was launched by the Commission on 1 June 2005 as a framework for addressing the main challenges and development in the information society and media sectors up to 2010. It promotes an open and competitive digital economy and emphasises ICT as a driver for inclusion and quality of life. The initiative contains a range of EU policy instruments to encourage the development of the digital economy such as regulatory instruments, research and partnerships with stakeholders. Promotes high-speed and secure broadband networks offering rich and diverse content in Europe.

Community Guidelines for the application of State aid rules in relation to rapid deployment of broadband networks

In September 2009 European Commission adopted Community Guidelines for the application of State aid rules in relation to rapid deployment of broadband networks.

The guidelines provides clear and predictable framework for interested parties. The guidelines contain special provisions on penetration of networks for access of the next generation, enabling public financial means to reinforce investments in this strategic sector, without causing distortion of market competition. The guidelines provide Member States with complete and transparent instrument to ensure that their plans for public funding of broadband networks are in accordance with the rules for state aid of the EU.

European Economic Recovery Plan

On 26 November 2008, the Commission adopted a European Economic Recovery Plan as a mean to drive Europe's recovery from the financial and economic crisis. The broadband strategy is an important part of the Recovery Plan. In particular, the aim of the latter is to boost EU investment in defined strategic sectors, such as broadband, that can help support the economy in short run and over the longer term create essential infrastructures for sustainable economic growth.

High-speed Internet connections promote rapid technology diffusion, which in turn creates demand for innovative products and services. To boost Europe's leading role in fixed and wireless communications and accelerate the development of high value-added services, the Commission and Member States should work with stakeholders to develop a broadband strategy to accelerate the up-grading and extension of networks. The aim should be to reach 100% coverage with high speed access to internet by 2010. The Commission will channel an additional € 1 bn. to these network investments in 2009-2010.


EUREKA is a pan-European network for market-oriented, research and innovation. It’s aiming to increase Europe’s competitiveness, through supporting enterprises, scientific and research centres and universities, which are implementing pan-European projects for the development of innovative products, applications and services. By means of supporting and stimulating the innovations, the initiative EUREKA completes the Frame program of EU ЕС for increasing the investments in scientific investigations and studies, researches – investments should reach 3% from the GDP.

Seventh Framework Program

The Seventh Framework Program supports scientific research and technological development in the field of ICT, including in the field of broadband networks and based services.


The project "structural funds for regional development in Europe" (SFERA) is a specialized tool for the implementation of a link between structural funds and the Seventh Framework Program for scientific research and technological development. SFERA promotes key activities, necessary for planning, the study of the best practices and criteria, awareness the importance of ICT and provide specific decisions for connecting by electronic means of the regions with worse service.

European regulatory framework in the field of the electronic communications

The EU legal framework for regulating electronic communication services has the aim of developing a better-functioning internal market for electronic communication networks and services. The regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services covers all forms of fixed and wireless electronic communications, data transmission and broadcasting. The regulation of the content carried by such services is, however, dealt with under separate rules. This framework has been updated, to take account of developments in this fast-moving field.

In the internal market, telecoms operators and service providers have the right to set up and offer their services throughout the EU. Encouraging and enabling them to take advantage of those rights boosts the overall quality of electronic communications services for consumers, and reduces the prices they have to pay for them. The EU’s regulatory framework aims to promote free and fair competition, which will boost economy by supporting every area of activity which relies on telecoms, and create a strong telecoms industry. Consumers will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

In this fast-developing sector, the regulatory framework need to be revised, to ensure it continues to serve the best interests of consumers and industry in today’s marketplace. An agreement on the EU Telecoms Reform was reached by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers on 4 November 2009, after two years of discussion during the legislative process.


The activities in the cybersecurity field are part of a European RTD effort to create a more secure Information Society for Europe's citizens. This goal is pursued in accordance with the European Union's commitment to respect and protect fundamental human rights.

Radio Spectrum policy

Radio spectrum is an essential resource underpinning one of Europe’s most dynamic sectors: wireless communications. But the spectrum is scarce resource so its allocation requires effective and efficient coordination at European and global level.

The aim of EU policy in this area is to coordinate the approach to radio spectrum management across the Union to ensure that Europe gets the maximum benefit from its use of this scarce resource.

European space policy

Space systems are strategic assets demonstrating Europe's independence and readiness to assume global responsibilities. The strategic mission of the European Space Policy, jointly developed by the European Commission and the ESA, is based on the peaceful exploitation of outer space.

Broadband access in the European Union and in the world

Broadband access in the EU

European broadband market is developing at an accelerated pace, which makes some European countries world leaders in broadband penetration.

The gap between EU countries is narrowing, with the difference between the EU Member States with the highest and those with the lowest penetration having decreased from 28.1 percentage points in January 2008 to 26.3 percentage points in January 2009. The European Commission (ЕC) sees as a basic obstacle for the growth of the broadband, the absence of sufficient competition and some regulatory weaknesses.

The dynamics in the European economy to a large extend depends on the development and the introduction of new technologies. The access to high speed internet by means of broadband connectivity reveals serious possibilities for growth. The European Commission has identified a number of instruments which can be used on local level for improving the accessibility to broadband.

The EU average fixed broadband penetration rate reaches 22.92% in January 2009, compared with 20.16% in January 2008. In the most successful countries – Denmark (37,3%) and Holland (36,2%), approximately one third of the population has broadband access, using infrastructures different from the one of the incumbent.

The rate of growth was highest in Malta (7.0 lines per 100 inhabitants), Poland (4.8 per 100 inhabitants), Greece (4.3 per 100 inhabitants) and Cyprus (4.2 per 100 inhabitants), and lowest in Finland (zero growth) and Sweden (0.3 per 100 inhabitants). The most critical is the slow development in broadband access in less urbanized and rural areas in EU, where almost half of the population never used Internet.

The tendencies in the development of the broadband access in the EU member-states are showing that for a very short period of time the high speed access to Internet has become a foundation of modern economy. All of this is giving a serious base to the member-states to become world leaders in the broadband penetration.

Broadband access in the world

In the end of 2008 the total number of the broadband lines in the world scale reaches 410,9 million (397,15 million at the end of the first trimester – increase with 3,47 %). In terms of its allocation and development per geographic regions, Western Europe remains the region with the greatest numbers of established fixed broadband connections - 25,73%, followed by North America - 21,53% and South-East Asia - 22,76%.

Source: Point Topic

According to Point Topic forecasts, by the end of 2013, the number of the broadband lines worldwide will increase up to 683 million. China will become the country with the largest number of broadband lines – 153 million, followed by USA – 117 million, India and Brazil will be among the Top 10 countries in the world.

Broadband access in Republic of Bulgaria

The European indexes and analyses for the development of the broadband are unambiguous, that Bulgaria is lagging behind in comparison to the other EU member-states, both with regards to connectivity and application of the technologies. Broadband penetration in the Republic of Bulgaria is near two times lower than the EU average while in the rural areas of the country broadband is absent. The broadband penetration rate in Bulgaria is 11.2% in January 2009 compared to 7.6% in January 2008, and it is still far below the EU average -22.9%.

According to the data from EC ‘Progress report on the single European electronic communications market’ (14th report), 70% of broadband lines were non-DSL, mainly owned by LAN and RLAN operators (57% of the broadband lines), followed by хDSL (29% of the broadband lines) and cable access (12.7%). Mobile broadband is starting developing with a penetration rate of 5.7% compared to 13% EU average, based on general usage, and of 0.5% compared to 2.8% (EU average), based on data cards, in January 2009. WiMax access technology was used by less then one percent of all subscribers.

About 90% of fixed broadband lines in Bulgaria are in the range of 2 Mbps and above (62% between 2 Mbps and 10 Mbps, and 28% above 10 Mbps). Greater data transmission speeds generally provide customers with more and better choice at a lower price per megabit. Fast connections (up to 100 Mbps or beyond), such as provided by fibre and some cable, only cover 1.4% of European Internet subscribers. Bulgaria, Sweden, Portugal, Belgium and Greece have a large proportion of connections with speeds of 10 Mbps and over, whereas Cyprus, Estonia, Poland and Ireland appear to have a low number of high-speed connections.

Despite current situation the market tendencies are showing that Bulgaria still have a potential to reach average EU broadband rate in the next few years.

Economic logic of the provision of broadband services is such that from the standpoint of the market there is no commercial interest for setting up broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

In this cases State aid can correct market failures, thereby improving the efficient functioning of markets and enhancing competitiveness. In particular, a well targeted State intervention in the broadband field can contribute to reducing the 'digital divide' that sets apart areas or regions within a country where affordable and competitive broadband services are available and areas where such services are not available. At the same time, it must be ensured that State aid does not disturb competition and market initiative for investment in broadband infrastructure.

State intervention should be consistent with the classification of the European Commission ‘Community Guidelines for the application of State aid rules in relation to rapid deployment of broadband networks’ where are defined three areas type’s depending on the level of broadband connectivity that is already available. The Commission has consistently made a distinction between areas where no broadband infrastructure exists or is unlikely to be developed in the near term (white areas), areas where only one broadband network operator is present (grey areas) and areas where at least two or more broadband network providers are present (black areas).

TheРеализирането на Стратегията ще се осъществи поетапно, съобразено с наличния финансов ресурс, насочен за постигане целите, заложени в нея. implementation of the Strategy will be put in line according to available financial resources. DuringНачалният етап включва периода 2010 и 2011 г. Ще се търсят варианти за реализиране на ефективни модели на публично-частно партньорство, като съфинансирането от страна на частни стопански субекти може да достигне до 50%. the initial stage which covers the period 2010 and 2011, options for implementing effective models of public-private partnership will be explored as co-financing by private businesses is expected to reach up to 50%.

При благоприятно развитие през 2010 г. могат да бъдат стартирани проекти, които да обхванат с междуселищна свързаност, комуникационно оборудване и/или вътрешноселищна свързаност приблизително 26 населени места (всяко от тях с население от порядъка на средно 20 хил. души).In 2010 approximately 26 villages (each with a population of around 20 thousand on average) shell be covered with broadband infrastructures. Голяма част от тези селища са идентифицирани като „сиви” и „бели” зони, изхождайки от „Насоките на Общността относно прилагането на правилата за държавна помощ във връзка с бързото разгръщане на широколентови мрежи” на Европейската комисия.Most of these villages are identified as "gray" and "white" areas, according to classification set out in EC ‘Community Guidelines for the application of State aid rules in relation to rapid deployment of broadband networks’. TheНеобходимият финансов ресурс от Оперативна програма „Регионално развитие” за обезпечаване на инвестиционните проекти през 2010 г. е в размер на 15 млн. лв. financial resources from the Operational Program ‘Regional Development’ will ensure about BGN 15 million in 2010 for broadband projects.

In През 2011 г. ще се стартират проекти, които ще осигурят свързаност на приблизително 50 населени места с население от порядъка на 760 000 души.2011 approximately 50 villages with a population of around 760 000 people shell be covered with broadband infrastructures. TheНеобходимият финансов ресурс от Оперативна програма „Регионално развитие” за обезпечаване на инвестиционните проекти през 2010 г. е в размер на 15 млн. лв. financial resources from the Operational Program ‘Regional Development’ will ensure about BGN 25 million in 2010 for broadband projects.
Vision, objectives, priorities and principles


Republic of Bulgaria faces the challenge to reach developed European countries: to become by the end of 2013 a country with a strong and competitive economy and sustainable economic growth, with stable and high-income of the population, with modern infrastructure, a country with high quality of health, social and educational services, investing in science and technology.

The vision of this Strategy as a part of the overall program of the government is: by 2013 all Bulgarian citizens should have the possibility for broadband access. This will be achieved through coordinated political, regulatory, economic and other measures.


Social and economic objectives:

To facilitate fair and reasonable access to broadband and its benefits for all Bulgarians. Enhance choices and opportunities for all Bulgarians in work and other aspects of daily life independent of location, background, age or interests;

To strengthen the social cohesion through better access to online services leading to enhanced communication between people, particularly in rural and remote regions;

Да се подобри конкурентоспособността на българската икономика, което да доведе до повишаване на заетостта и жизнения стандарт на населението.To improve the international competitiveness of Bulgarian economy, leading to increased employment and standard of living;

To increase the trust in Internet, by imposing norms for security and behaviour, complying with the business standards;

To facilitate the innovative use of broadband by business to improve processes, employ new business strategies, access new opportunities and deliver enhanced services to end-users.

Technological objectives - connectivity, networks, infrastructure

Main cities:

  • by 2013 - the population should have access to broadband with speed above 20 Mbps; more than 80% of the households should have connection to fibre network;

  • to provide wireless broadband access in public places;

  • by 2013 - to develop a broadband infrastructure connecting health centres and hospitals in the country;


  • by 2013 - up to 90% of the population should have access to broadband with speed above 10 Mbps; more than 80% of the households should have connection to fibre network.

  • to provide wireless access in public places at least in the buildings of municipalities;

Rural areas

  • by 2013 – up to 50% of the population should have access to broadband;

  • by 2010 – the population should have access to computer and internet.

National connectivity

To create conditions for deployment of sustainable fibre infrastructures, providing connectivity to the major, medium cities and rural areas by 2013.

International connectivity

To create conditions by 2013, Republic of Bulgaria to become a part of European fibre infrastructures with capacities, equal to those of developed European countries.

Priorities - Accessibility; Affordability; Internet connectivity; IT skills; Cybersecurity

Focus on the citizens: each project and activity related to the development of the broadband should be evaluated basically according to their contribution and benefits that they are bringing to the citizens of Republic of Bulgaria as end.

Equity: All Bulgarians should have fair and reasonable access to broadband and its benefits. Policy will have regard to barriers including price, location and culture.

Coordination and collaboration: industry stakeholders and the Bulgarian Government will work together to realise efficient and effective provision of broadband infrastructure, applications and services.

Market-based investment: Competitive markets in which service providers receive appropriate returns on their investments will drive the provision of broadband connectivity, applications and content. Where markets do not deliver services in a timely, affordable, efficient or equitable manner, government action is likely to be warranted in the public interest. In all cases, commercially sound and sustainable investment should underpin decision making and market operation.

Public-private partnership: the European practices shows that public-private partnership is one of the most successful financial instruments for the provision of investment in the public infrastructure, where state and municipal budgets do not have the necessary resources.

Sustainable development: Broadband policies, regulation and other initiatives should be transparent and flexible and should build foundations for sustainable markets, including innovative technology solutions. Policies will embrace technological and competitive neutrality. Decisions should be made with a view to optimizing sustainable long-term objectives.

Consideration of policies, initiatives and principles of the EU: the development of the broadband access in Republic of Bulgaria will be in accordance with the regulatory and legal framework of the European Union, taking into account the national conditions.

Roadmap for the broadband development in Bulgaria

The Roadmap for broadband development will contain the elaboration of analyses for the broadband access per regions in relation with macroeconomic and demographic characteristics, recommendations for the application of technologies in the regions, the elaboration of instructions for the methods and forms of public-private partnerships; creation of a network for monitoring and publicity of the projects results.

A special attention will be paid to the regulation. The regulatory framework should guarantee the accelerated development of effective and competitive market and should impose the principal of technological neutrality, facilitate the licenses and the provision of transparent and equal regulation.

    Implementation of the Strategy

    Coordination and monitoring

    Coordinating role in the implementation of the Strategy is given to Ministry of transport, information technology and communications

    The monitoring on the implementation of the Strategy will be carried out by Consulting council on information technology and electronic governance. Annually up to 15th December Consulting council shall prepare report to Council of Ministers. In the report will be assess main indicators, reflecting implementation of the strategy: number of started projects; build broadband infrastructures (km.); Percentage of broadband penetration; Villages identified as ‘gray’ and ‘white’ areas with insured broadband access.

    Financial part

Sources for financing:

EU Structural Fundsthe main financial instrument for strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions is European Regional Development Fund – ERDF.

Other sources of financial supportprivate investments remain an appropriate instrument for financing of various projects related to the building of broadband infrastructure. Private initiative is expected to create conditions for the development of the market of electronic communications services and to ensure quick entry of new technologies.

    State budgetthe Government is considering securing funding from the state budget for building of infrastructure together with the local authorities. Financing from the state budget should be consistent with the rules for state aid and the creation of implementation of innovative broadband services and content.


The national strategy for development of broadband access in Republic of Bulgaria defines objectives which are implementable within the time frame (2013) for which Bulgaria will reach the levels of broadband penetration of the leading EU member-states.

Втората стъпка е свързана с изготвянето на Рамковата програма за изпълнение на Стратегията (Национална програма) съдържаща конкретни мерки, пътна карта за изпълнението и финансова рамка, след извършване на детайлно проучване на нуждите от широколентов достъп и моделите за публично-частно партньорство.The next step involves preparation of a framework programme for the implementation of the Strategy (National Program) containing specific measures, roadmap and financial framework, following a detailed study of the needs of broadband and models for public-private partnership. Срокът за изготвяне на тези документи е м. март 2010 г. Рамковата програма ще изведе основните принципи за реализиране на проектите, по-важните от които: технологична неутралност, равнопоставеност, прозрачност, устойчиво развитие и други. The deadline for making National Program is March 2010. The Program will put out the basic principles for the realization of projects.

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