Bulgaria was behind the EU averages for standard fixed broadband coverage in total and in rural areas. Whilst it was ahead of the EU average for total NGA coverage, we estimated that there was no coverage in rural areas at the end of 2012.
The pattern in overall coverage can be explained by the technology profile in Bulgaria. In 2012 DSL covered 85% of households. Whilst this is extensive, it falls behind the average of 93% coverage in the European Union. As DSL is usually the primary technology for delivering standard fixed broadband coverage, this explains why Bulgaria falls behind the EU average for this measure.
No VDSL coverage was reported for Bulgaria in 2012. FTTP covered just over 7% of households, which is modest compared to the average coverage in the European Union and particularly compared to other Eastern European countries. The key technology providing NGA services to households in Bulgaria was Docsis 3.
The low coverage for FTTP in Bulgaria may seem suprising when compared to other published sources for broadband coverage. For the purposes of this study, what can sometimes be described as FTTP was classified as Docsis 3 cable. There is an unspecified amount of FTTLA architecture within one operator’s network, which we believe primarily uses Docsis 3 technology. FTTLA, with fibre being brought close to the end-user and sometimes into apartment blocks, would be correctly classified as FTTB but we currently have no evidence of how widespread the technology is. Considering that when estimating total NGA coverage it makes no difference whether the connection is Docsis 3 or FTTB, we opted for classifying the whole network as Docsis 3 rather than making an uncertain estimate that a proportion was FTTB.
20% of households in Bulgaria were thought to be rural at the end of 2012. Given that the Docsis 3 network covered under 60% of households, it is our assessment that this was likely to result in no rural coverage.
Overall broadband growth progressed slowly in 2012. WiMAX coverage grew with an additional 126 thousand households covered in 2012. No other technology grew by more than two percentage points.
Bulgaria had variable broadband coverage with a different pattern from that familiar in Western Europe. The areas which led in standard fixed coverage did not necessarily lead for NGA coverage. Sofia, the capital, for example, was behind the leading areas for standard coverage, but first in the country for NGA coverage.
Tourist areas such as the coastal provinces were among those with 100% standard fixed broadband coverage. Most provinces had between 80% and 94%. Those in North-West Bulgaria are the lowest, starting below 50% and reaching around 70%.
Most of the NUTS 3 areas in the country had over 50% coverage but the most rural areas all had less than 10% of their households covered.
Point Topic maps broadband coverage in every square kilometre across Europe. For more details, please visit the Broadband Competition Map of Europe page or contact Tim Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44(0)20 3301 3303.