Why Is The Internet In Romania So Damn Fast?

romania sidewalk sign

Romania, and Bucharest specifically, is something of a travel blogger’s digital fantasy come true. Walk down most streets, stop on any corner, whip out your smart phone and more often than not you’ll find a wireless connection. That’s open. No password required; generally because a commodity as common as an Internet connection here isn’t worth stealing.

In fact, Romania has the world’s second fastest Internet at about 15 megabits per second (Mbps), second behind only South Korea. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly 5 times the average connection an American has in their home. So how does a country with less than 1% of the United States GDP and 50th on the Human Development Index (HDI) – compared to South Korea’s number 15 ranking – jump to the front of the online race?

Yes, there are the technological components for those binary bits to run along but it’s who’s behind those wires and how they got there that’s a more interesting story.

red building bucharestMore Than Nuts And Bolts

There’s a natural tendency for most of us to think that Romania was probably a late newcomer to the digital revolution and therefore had the benefit of installing the latest equipment. If that reasoning were true, then Bhutan, the latest country online would have the world’s fastest Internet. (And America, where the Internet was invented, would be creeping along at 13kbps like Congo, the current world’s slowest.)

Internet speed has a lot to do with good infrastructure but even the best equipment in the world won’t help without well trained engineers who can organize those online connections efficiently.

Going Geek Starts At An Early Age

Romania’s fast Internet may seem like an anomaly at first – until you take a look at its neighbors. Bulgaria has the world’s 3rd fastest connection and Ukraine 8th. Go a bit north and you’ll find Latvia and Lithuania taking up the 4th and 5th spots respectively. Much like Romania, these countries have a tradition of a mathematics and science-heavy curriculum in their education process beginning early on. The typical Romanian student sees more than 2.5 times the amount of mathematics education and nearly 8 times the amount of computer training than an American by the time the reach high school [PDF]. There is also some anecdotal evidence that Romanian classrooms get more girls involved in the sciences and math [PDF].

teddy bears romaniaSome consider the ‘hard’ sciences to have been an intellectual outlet during the repressive years under Communism. The exact set of circumstances that have created this tilt are complex but the results are clear – Romania has the most certified information technology (IT) specialists in the European Union (EU) and are 6th worldwide [PDF]. Those of you running Windows 7’s default anti-virus suite should know your computer is being protected by a program developed by Romanian software engineers.

Now that you have the base of engineers – or Romanian geeks as I’ll affectionately call them – let’s look at the unique landscape they’ve helped create and operate in.

The Straight Ethernet Lines From Communism To Capitalism

Romania might have one of the world’s fastest Internet connections but it has a mediocre broadband penetration rate; about half that of the EU average. Only 14% of the population, roughly 2.9 million people in a geographically small area. That geographic area is also remarkably unregulated in telecom terms which is probably why Romania has had a somewhat rotating theater of hundreds of Internet service providers over the last 12 years. This remarkable ad-hoc form of competitive capitalism is one of the reasons why Internet bandwidth is incredibly cheap in Romania.

You have telecoms and ISPs laying down wires, or raising them depending on the situation; practically no regulation of the market, relatively few people getting online, plus a high nerd-to-population ratio. When they come together here’s how you get the world’s second fastest Internet.

slice of cakeRomania’s Layer Cake Of Connectivity

Major fiber optic connections connect Romania to the rest of the world; these connections being more-or-less owned and maintained by large service providers. Within neighborhoods you tend to have relatively smaller local Ethernet local area networks (LANs) that metaphorically sit between a Romanian computer in a house and the major service provider. There are thousands of these throughout the country – there has to be as although the connection is fast, is doesn’t go very far. These LANs act as middlemen to the Internet in a sense; the benefit being they can all negotiate with the major ISPs, forcing prices down. This is what happens when you don’t regulate your nerds.

This arrangement wouldn’t work in the United States for several reasons. Rules and laws would certainly get in the way and you couldn’t realistically run this type of Ethernet patchwork system over the much larger distances you find in America. Also, there is very little competition between ISPs since most run a practical monopoly in most parts of the country.

It is also worth noting that there are about 150 more computer engineers per person in Romania than there are in the US. That would make it difficult to find enough people to run such networks, let alone foster an environment that would create innovative ways to connect them.

I’ve left out many technical details and this is something of an over-simplification; I focused on conveying the major points in response to the question of why Romanians have such a (damn) fast Internet connection.

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  1. Mihnea says:

    “megabytes per second (mbps)”

  2. Matt says:

    Romania has been on my list of destinations for a while. This is just one more reason to visit. Thanks for telling the story!

  3. romanian says:

    considering that half of romanians live in rural areas and most of those by subsistence farming, it’s amazing there are engineers at all.

  4. Dracc says:

    “It is also worth noting that there are about 150 more computer engineers per person in Romania than there are in the US.”
    Are you telling us that there are 150+ computer engineers per capita in Romania, i.e. that for every child born/immigrant, there are >150 computer engineers popping up out-of-the-blue, and for every one of those, there are another >150 computer engineers and so on…?

    • Anil P. says:

      I’m not saying that, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is. Hit the link above for details.

      • Dracc says:

        I can’t find the statistics for Romania, but I’m pretty sure the site linked named “in the US.” says “Employment per 1000 jobs”, i.e. not “per capita”. :)

        • Anna says:

          Those studies don’t take into account the number of “nerds” working abroad and sending money back home. I could say that likely half of the graduates in IT leave Romania, some of them for good.

  5. Bennet_Marky says:

    This is a new information for me. I was never aware that Bulgaria was a traveler’s paradise. There are many breath-taking and exciting places in Bulgaria which are worth site-seeing.

  6. phat says:

    Another very important reason for this, and not only in Romania but in the whole eastern block: piratery is a very common thing in all these countries and the demand for big internet speed is huge when you know you have to download 10-20 GB games or movies. And the offer came to suit these needs with the sometimes absurd download speeds. :)

    • Remus says:

      phat, you HAVE to check your facts straight.

      Please take a look at the countries with the biggest piracy rates. Romania is nowhere NEAR the top of the list but holds the second internet speed in the world. Also, SOUTH KOREA, the country with the fastest internet connection, is somewhere around the bottom of the piracy ranking.

      Furthermore, countries like russia, spain, italy (with high piracy rates), have nowhere near the speed that our country has but still rank way higher on piracy rankings.

      • phat says:

        You are totally right, but do you think that if we didn’t need to download 1.2 GB movies or 4 GB pirated games, we would have had the same speed by now?

  7. subzero says:

    hello, i read this article yesterday, it appeared in an on line version of a romanian magazine.
    i saw that the article it was written more than a year ago and is still commented. I read all the comments and i must say, everybody has a point somehow… First of all we are a capitalist country not for long.. 20 years. In the early 90 s the romanian telephone company didn t knew how to make business in an open market and the company was sold to an investor witch was bad at business even more(in the selling contract the romanian state offered monopol for some years for the company to grow and flourish), it was chaos in the markets then, and the company had the bright idea to make money by double and triple the costs of phone calls. They had monopol..everybody was upset. The cell technology was entering the market but with no real power, cell phones were expensive even in the west back then. It was very expensive to stay on the net with a dial up connection, due to the monopolistic views of the telephone company… i remember that i was paying 40 50 euros a month, now it s not that much, but then.. it was a salary…or half of it. The neighborhood networks started to grow very fast, there were hubs on every block of flats, in every city, in all the country, people start enjoying the internet without paying a fortune, every neighborhood network had a dc++ hub, a game server, of course everything was pirated.. even today we do not quite understand why we have to pay for something free. There was a downsize to these networks.. thing about a storm.. the net was down.. falling snow.. the net was down. The state empowered monopol was ending and along came a market player.. RDS. As soon as the monopol was ended.. they entered the market with dump prices. The hole country was changing companies, one was making tones of money, one was dead. RDS created monopol by the stupidity of the other. Rds started like 100 meters athlete in this business. They acquired all the neighborhood networks very fast, and not only small networks.. all the networks. They had such small prices, services were very good, and in a matter of years they changed all infrastructure in fiber optics. They grew so big that now they are also in some neighbouring countries. They invested a lot in infrastructure, thinking about the future, now the rds plan is to complete the free wireless network in the hole country. They have so may subscribers that they afford to keep the price very low. I have a 9 euro subscription for internet, tv, a wireless stick and phone (fix line and other 2 cell phones), i can download a 3..4 giga file in a matter of minutes, and it s the smallest rds contract. If you are a business you can afford to let the wireless free :) . I didn t knew that the net was very fast here until last year when i visited my family in northern europe and i said.. hmm.. the net is slow here.. they didn t believe me, i was like a troll complaining about life in northern europe :) I came home and i checked my speed on the net.. and..i was a very fast surfer. I don t know how they managed but rds invested a lot in networks, they had the money because it was raining with funds , they had the people because in romania there are a lot of programmers,and they have the sympathy of the country due to the very bad business conducted by the state deceased phone company. Rds is paying fines for monopol every year, but now for them a 20 30 milion euro fine is small change. Even with monopol they continue to have great services.Other companies tried to enter the market but.. they are small here and is like fighting with Gods, they can t afford to offer cheap and fast internet, only cheap or only fast. I wrote this connected to a free wireles, i have my subscription, but .. let s party.

  8. John says:

    Nice review. Known facts tough :)
    Just wanted to answer to those guys that say piracy pushed the limits on the inet speed. Crap. I was piracing even with Dial Up so stop that useless argument. Romania had infrastructure from the comunism. See Romtelecom who still provide Dial Up, DSL, xDSL. RDS and UPC ( other Romanian ISP players ) build, took over small neighbourhood LANs as autor well said. I work in the IT department with USA, and God help them with Dial Up.
    Right now I am waiting for RDS to plug me to the Internet to another address so I surf on the web from a laptop with a hotspot from a cell phone. Speed up to 4G ( wifi conn ) and no Inet problems.
    Considering that cell phones provide up to 100 mbs the ISPs now provide speeds up to 150 ( normal access ) for main market or you can go business lines wich cost arround 30 euros but the speed is priceless ( among others like peering etc ) ^^
    Yeah pirates, We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

  9. Akila says:

    We are in Bulgaria right now and I’ve decided that this country needs to be the new “Chiang Mai” backpacker base, especially in the summers. The internet is lightning fast, food is good (though not as good as Thai food) and cheap, and there are plenty of cute towns with cheap accommodations. In the summer, the beaches are nice but not packed and, in the winter, there’s skiing. And the people are amazingly kind and welcoming (I don’t think they expect to get tourists here). We are getting SO much work done here because of the ultra-fast internet. It’s awesome!

    • Anil P. says:

      I couldn’t agree more, I loved Bulgaria and found it to be ideal for all of the reasons you mention. The Internet, incredible isn’t it! You’ll be spoiled now if you leave eastern Europe!

    • cosmin says:

      its an article about romania, not bulgaria, learn to read.

      • Anil Polat says:

        It’s pretty obvious she knows how to read and I think the comparison is valid. Bulgaria isn’t too far behind Romania in Internet speeds.

        • Someone says:

          “I couldn’t agree more, I loved Bulgaria and found it to be ideal for all of the reasons you mention.”

          All the reasons he mentioned about Bulgaria?! Really the article is about another country. There is no valid comparison. Europe is not another America, so two different countries from Europe are a lot different than you can imagine.. and yeah, learn some logic

  10. joe says:

    I remember being 8-9 years old and going with my brother at a computer science class. There were no Pentium 1 or 486 computers back then and they learned a lot about everything in these sort of independent classes. Of course, I learned some things as well and I now know a lot about IT&C just as a hobby.

    So…if you were to ask me if I can manage a job in IT I would have to answer “of course” because we evolved at the same pace with technology. The downside is the poor society and poor reach of technology in different areas of Romania. Not a problem, we’ll just freaking move to another country and that’s that.

  11. Adrian B says:

    Surprised that no one has brought this up but:

    Maybe one of the reasons that internet is so fast in Bucharest is that most of the city is so compacted in blocks? Most of it is made up of neighborhoods that in most countries are classified as cheap “housing projects”. This means a lot of apartments in 10 floor blocks. Each apartment will have its separate internet connection with the ISP, so as an ISP it’s really cheap to get a lot of customers and manage your network, when in a medium sized block you have 100 apartments.

    + no real regulation for how the cables are to be installed.. there are still loads of cables hanging around, hooked from one block to another straight from the rooftops.

    Compare that to countries in Western Europe or North America, it will be a lot more expensive to manage your network, households are at a much larger distance from one other, there are probably regulations on cables having to be underground and so on.

    So the ease of distribution to overcrowded communist blocks has to be taken into account.

  12. EroticaXP says:

    And for the record… when half of Europe was tinkering with the dsl and adsl which were dead slow for download and streaming i was surfing on a dedicated fibre with unlimited bandwidth. And when people were getting cable modems in their homes, i was downloading at ethernet physical treshold (~100Mbps – stable download), thanks to one of these neighbourhood providers that made the Internet in Romania, what it is today.

  13. EroticaXP says:

    @AdrianB Wrooong… for starters it helped lower the expenses hence lower the prices but you can get fiber optics to one street and then LAN to the customer … even gigabit lan in order to stream digital tv… the thing we lack though is perspective….I have a friend who just moved into a new house somewhere in UK. He had internet by default but on a temporary network infrastructure from provider X. So he rents a house that was just built and has internet. The same provider said that within 7 days he will have fibre optics grade connection. Why? Because the only thing required is to change the default routing equipment in the house with a media gateway. The rest of the network is long gone under the house because before completing the layers of a street the put large tubes in the ground… and those tubes get leased asap by the providers and the network is installed to the door. The only thing the tech guy actually does is make the link with the house’s network and plug the equipment…. no aerial, neat , ready at any time… think we can do it ? i thinks so … when we find perspective

  14. Razvan says:

    Figured I’ll share my speedtest result from my job.
    I’m also from Romania:)

  15. Anjuli says:

    Amazing article!!! My hubby and I read it with great interest.

  16. Tony says:

    That study is seriously flawed — it doesn’t even seem to include Estonia, which is either at, or very close to, the top worldwide, with many people having 150meg to their home. See, for example, the table at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedtest.net#data

  17. Noelfy says:

    Cool, I was planning to move to Rumania or Bulgaria(or both!) this summer to keep blogging!! Great to read this!! :D

  18. Andrei says:

    Then use this one: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=isoc_ci_it_h&lang=en Still ends up with 50% HH with broadband. Per capita calculations lead to false conclusions such as the one from the article: 2.9m ppl with broadband. In fact, there are around 4m HHs, which comes to about 10m ppl.

    UMTS nationwide coverage stops investments in fixed broadband. RDS (main fixed broadband provider) acquired UMTS and LTE spectrum and in rural areas invests only in mobile broadband, hence fixed BB penetration rate will not increase more than 60-65% of HHs.

  19. Thumbellina says:

    YEap, I sure do miss the internet connection I had in Romania. Living in Italy for a year now, internet here sucks big time:( Miss my country, but otherwise…cannot complain about Rome:)

  20. Anon says:

    Internet speed is measured in bits not bytes.

    • Anil P. says:

      Multiply by 8, now you’ve turned those bytes into bits.

      • Vlad says:

        Nope, it’s the very opposite… :) Divide bytes by 8 and you get bits. Or multiply bits by 8 to get bytes.

        Anyway, thank you for this entry.

        • Anil Polat says:

          I always get conversions mixed up but in this case, I don’t believe so.

          1 byte = 8 bits

          Multiple bytes by 8 to get the total number of bits. Divide the total number of bits by 8 to get bytes.

          • Claudiu Ceia says:

            1 byte = 8 bits

            If you multiply 1 byte, you have to multiply both sides of the statement, so:

            8 bytes = 64 bits

            However, that doesn’t take away from the article, which is awesome. I link to it every time I brag about our internet connection and geeks.

  21. Remus says:

    Hi Anil,

    Great piece! It surely summarises almost everything that needs to be covered.

    I am a Romanian and I’ve lived the whole rise of internet connection speed here. I think another important reason for the rise in internet connection speed has to do with a large romanian ISP that started some 13 years ago. Back then, there were only fragmented local networks. It was quite a common to have your own neighbourhood LAN. Most cities had 4-5 large LANs but fairly poor/non-existent internet connection. The best internet connection you could get back then was a dial-up connection, which was really slow (I remembering waiting the whole night for downloading a 3MB file).

    However, around 10 years ago, this company (I will disclose it’s name and if you think that’s inappropriate, please edit my comment), RDS (romanian data system), bought all these local LANs and united them together, forming a city-wide network. Then they connected the cities together and so they got a pretty good infrastructure really fast. They disrupted the market with the first cable internet and later on, metro network. Back then, they were the only ones that offered this on the market so they gained market share pretty fast. It’s fairly common to have an 100MBPS connection here and you pay somewhere around 20 EUR/month (bundled with other services like TV, or telephone). However, in the past years, other international players have joined the market and their prices are 2-3 times more than the local company’s, while offering 2-3 times less speed. As you say, there is a monopoly in every city, and each city (with few exceptions) belongs to one ISP.

    So, I think this is how it all got started with our really fast internet connection :-)

    PS: I don’t work for, nor do I have any other interest in this company.

    • Anil P. says:

      I appreciate the added info Remus, thanks!

    • Cristian T says:

      Greetings from Bucharest.

      Since we are talking about prices and bandwidth in Romania, it should be mentioned that for about 10 euros a month you can get a 100Mbps connection with your own personal static IP address from a neighborhood LAN. Some of them also offer other services within this price, like web hosting, email hosting and IP TV.

      This bandwidth is almost always guaranteed to reach that limit. Personally, i have reached download speeds of up to 11-12MB/s and upload speeds of up to 6-7MB/s through connections with hosts in Romania, and about half those speeds with hosts from other countries in Europe.

      And, while RDS did buy most of them, some of them are still independent and reach out to thousands of homes. Some of the very big ones have joined together and now form the InterLAN group, “The biggest internet exchange of Romania” as they call themselves. This provides very fast and cheap connections to the home user and keep the bigger companies from gaining a monopoly in this market.

    • donjoe says:

      “That geographic area is also remarkably unregulated in telecom terms which is probably why Romania has had a somewhat rotating theater of hundreds of Internet service providers over the last 12 years. This remarkable ad-hoc form of competitive capitalism is one of the reasons why Internet bandwidth is incredibly cheap in Romania.”

      :)) You American(ophile)s and your precious “competitive capitalism” explanation that you immediately slap onto anything that seems to be going well. What happened in Romania had little to do with your idealized “competitive capitalism” and more to do with the timing of the adoption of high-capacity comms technology. If anything, the lack of regulation is what allowed Romania Data Systems to behave so monopolistically for all this time, by using integration of its TV, Internet and (more recently) phone line offers to lock customers in. Myself, I’ve never been a home subscriber of any other company than Romania Data Systems since my first dial-up connection. Nor do I have any reason to switch at this time, since RDS are the only ones I know of who have their network set up like a national fiber-optics WAN which gives me download speeds of around 4-6 MiB/s whenever my chosen torrent has even as few as 1-2 peers that are also RDS subscribers (which happens a lot because RDS is the #1 ISP in Romania).

      “Hundreds of ISPs”? “Rotating”? :)) I have no idea what you’re talking about. The only real competitor for RDS that I know of is UPC, which incidentally is using the same monopolistic practice of bundling its TV and Internet subscriptions together to get more customers locked in. But they don’t offer WAN speeds at the national level, so they’re not attractive to me. Any other competitors are smaller-scale and really no match for RDS.

      If you manage to get over your “competitive capitalism” fetish you might have a chance at understanding what’s really going on: sometimes the best offer comes from a monopolistic player who happened to enter the market at just the right time and in just the right way – at a time when unique opportunities were open and very lucrative market niches were up for grabs. Yes, the lack of regulation does help with that, but not because it enables idealized competition; quite the contrary: because it enables monopolization by a lucky and inspired pioneer who is then able to scale up their solution and get their good service out to a lot of customers quickly.

      The dark side of this comes out when the technology shifts paradigms again and all those customers find themselves locked into a monopolistic market run by a player who can’t afford to be innovative anymore and is keeping its customers hooked up to a solution that’s falling behind in performance while the next generation of pioneers can’t get into the market because of the monopolistic barriers. That’s when people realize they actually need some regulation for these things to work well in the long-term and they end up at the government’s doorstep asking for new laws.

      • Anil P. says:

        You should write your own enlightened article. In the meantime I’ll get over my fetish of reading comments on the Internet that resort to unimaginative name-calling.

  22. Florin says:

    An anecdote about internet access from 2005.

    I got a new job and the company sent me along with few other colleagues to Austria for training, for about 6 months. We were all IT people, with all the gear required for both pleasure and work, but only the connection to the internet was missing from our back-packs. Living in a hotel for 6 months was not easy, especially without internet to communicate to family and friends. To everyone’s surprise, the access to internet was PER MINUTE at the incredible price of 0.18 euro a minute, purchasable at the hotel reception in increments of 5-10 minutes. Have any of you heard of such price on Earth, comparable to voice price? Of course, there were plenty of internet cafes in the city, but is not at all feasible to share your data with everyone, plus the access was required to kill those long autumn and winter nights from the hotel room coziness. We tried to speak with the hotel management to negotiate some kind of whole-sale internet access for 9 people, like a monthly subscription for say 11 euro per person, a total of 100 euro per month, 600 euro total for few stranded engineers. We were willing to pay upfront the money for the whole period of agreement.

    Answer: the internet access is available standard for the price of 0.18euro/minute and there is no room for negotiation whatsoever, the hotel policy does not allow this.

    We went further to T-Mobile shop and talked to a tech guy, like from a tech to a tech, what if we want to borrow a GPRS PCMCIA card (yes, that was the speed at that time, 238kbit/s), hoping to share the connection between us in the hotel by making one laptop as router. We were willing to pay a deposit for the card (250euro) and a monthly amount as pay-per-time or pay-per-traffic, again about 100 euro/month. The provider had no loss, the card was covered by the deposit, the access was restricted at the amount payed in advance.

    No my friends, IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE SUCH ARRANGEMENT. The only way to get data access over T-Mobile network was with a monthly subscription and a contract for an austrian citizen, minimum 18 months contract.

    We were all baffled by the reluctance of the austrian people to even understand what exactly some foreigners wanted and why they wanted it this way, no tricks, no gimmicks, just a service according to the customer needs. The work colleagues eyeballed a little when we talked to them about this issue, saying that such things are unheard of. It’s not allowed, this is it, the company cannot change the rules for one customer. Somebody made this policy and everyone obeyed. The average household internet speed in Austria was about 64-128kbit/s, because there was no penetration of optic fiber, no provider risked to rebuild the infrastructure, what if no one needed such speeds over the internet? Back in Romania I had 100Mbit from a “street wide” provider and I could share files at a sustained rate of 4-5 MByte/s with people form 400km away.

    So, for 6 months I only exchanged short emails with family and friends, staying few more minutes at the office and eventually hunting free WiFi with the laptop, during the weekend, at some coffee shops in the town. We even build a map with free WiFi just for us, and every weekend a guy was lurking for signal. I have no idea how it’s now, but I can’t expect anything better, given the obtuseness of the people I dealt with in 2005.

    And by the way, few years ago I barely got a morning flight Bucharest-Graz with a stop in Vienna due to traffic and the check-in lady took both flight tickets (paper tickets) from the envelope for the outbound flight and in Vienna I realized this when I wanted to board the flight to Graz. Although I was in the system as myself and already flown a portion of the trip, I was not allowed to board the flight because I was missing the damn paper ticket and there was no time to purchase another whatever right to fly further, because I had a ticket. So, I spent 6 hours in the airport, I purchased for 185 euros another ticket, with the assurance that if I find the missing piece of paper, I will get a refund for the 185 euros. Needless to say that the romanian check-in lady did not find anything, although she understood exactly and remembered me as the lucky last second check-in guy from that morning. Teutonic ORDNUNG at its best.


    • George (Satmarean) says:

      Oh boy (BA BAIATULE :)) ) Who on earth charges 0.18€/min ? I spend A LOT of time on the internet at home … So lets say,i would spend 5 ours/day (to fit in your trip schedule) so that beeing 300 min/day x 180 days=9720 € wich dived by 12 (my monthy net payments) equals 810 months wich is 67.5 YEARS of internet (if it doesn’t get cheaper) … for the price of 6 months …

      • Florin says:

        George, have you read my comment? As I said, in 2005 that was the price/minute to access internet in hotels in Austria and Germany. The service and price were accordingly intended for emergency access, not long term. Whoever at T-Mobile established the business plan for WiFi internet access deployment in hotels had a clear rip-off policy to the potential customers. At that price one had to do all the job offline (like writing emails, etc) and just connect and transfer data and close session. The austrian colleagues thought that we just brag about internet at home, because for them was SciFi to have a solid 10Mbit/s. I remember at the time O-Zone band was popular and everyone was hooked on that stupid “dragostea din tei” hit, so a colleague begged me to download for him some videos and music with this band for his two daughters that were playing all day long the same piece of music they could find on the internet. So I did, when I returned home I made him a nice DVD with a lot of music and videos that I handed him during the next trip to Austria.

        As for why the price was so high? Demand and offer my friend, demand and offer… There were people paying that price just to get their emails through when travelling.

  23. Brandon says:

    Yet you forget to mention that cyber crime is rampant throughout much of Eastern Europe & the fast internet permits Romanians to be a little faster at their national past time of stealing.

    • Anil Polat says:

      Not sure any of the answers to the question:

      “Why Is The Internet In Romania So Damn Fast?”

      is cyber crime. But actually, according to Symantec, it isn’t Eastern Europe you should be worried about. In the top 20 countries with the highest cyber crime rates, only two are in Eastern Europe – and Romania doesn’t make the list:


      Average Internet speeds in general don’t seem to be correlated to levels of crime.

    • Cristi says:

      Comments section would not be complete without the typical american/british eager to spread the information spoonfed by their xenophobic media.
      Just out of curiosity, what’s your national pastime?

  24. Florea Calin says:

    hey Anil, i’m from romania too, yeah we have fast internet, and we have very bright people but that is not because of the education. Those engineers are so good because they are very motivated to learn by themselves, or study those things in other countries, and that is because we are a 3rd world contry, corruption, theft and other crap, we some of us are desperate to do somthing better, and put romania on the “GOOD” map, not the crappy one.

    This internet acces we have here made us very stupid, almost anybody has internet acces, witch really is not a good ideea if you think about it, and the cable companies wich also offer internet services need the money, they have the infrastructure sorted out so they kinda force the internet on the people, they make you wanna pay for that, just because is very convenient for them to take your money, and the people here are so stupid that they buy anything just for the fun of it. And to support that truth…do a research on who buys the most expensive and exotic cars and other stuff…guess who, ROMANIAN people.

    So not the education makes those engineers, i mean that starts the process, but no by any stretch of imagination, romanian education creates those engineers, but the willing to do something and get out of this shit hole of a country.

    As for the internet of course wee need it, though many people have no ideea now to use it or they use it stupidly, but they are paying for it. I personally im glad we have acces to IT, and very cheap and yeah it is freaking fast.

    Romanian people have way different thinking that US people or any other people for that matter, we are smart but poor, americand have a good living by default, if a may say it like that, so that motivation to do something great is not really there, when almost everybody has an ok life.

    So the internet is so fast because the infrastructure is good and done for a long time, so they push trough the same infrastructure internet also and telephony, aaaand like the other guys said above this…50% of people live in rural areas, so to give 50% of romania good internet is’t kinda easy, and cheap,especially when those people like to pay for anything fancy :) (yeah there was a time when internet was considered Fancy Schmancy)

    And about the wifi spots, there a LOOOOT of them, especially in the cities, almost everywhere you cand get a wifi spot, and about what guy said earlier here, about not beeing secure to connect to a public wifi, people should first be educated about how to use the internet, who have to be carrefull, like you have to be at your home, office or whereever u use internet. A non secured wifi spot is the least of your problems with internet.

    that’s it, and btw Anil, i had no ideea internet in romania was THAT fast, and i’m not that excited about that, knowing what shit hole i live in. :))

    • Anil P. says:

      Well there is something certainly to be said for things that can’t be quantified like curiosity and drive :)

    • Ion says:

      Florea Catalin…you are full of crap:|.
      1) Nobody is forced to pay for the internet and i onestly doubt that lots of people pay for it becouse it is “fancy”. Usually the internet comes with the TV cable at a very low price (15 Euros) , so while most of the people , even some in the rural areas have a computer, why not have the internet too. Do i need to write an essay on the advantages of the internet for you? So no, most of the people don’t pay for the internet becouse they are persuaded to, but becouse they actually can and use it.

      2) You said we don’t learn IT in school. Well, in Romania as in any other country in the world has good schools, with highly trained and skilled teachers, and also some completely useless schools. I’l have you know that there are some schools where IT and all those programming languages are actually tought at a very high level. It’s up to the students whether they want to study those things or not. I know becouse it is the case of my school. So before telling people that schools don’t actually teach you much, YOU should do your homework first. So to sum up, for those people (students) the educational system here works just fine; it could be much better, i agree, but it is definitely not as bad as you claim.

      3) “do a research on who buys the most expensive and exotic cars and other stuff…guess who, ROMANIAN people.” What the hell is that? Yes, it is true, a lot of people buy expensive cars even tough they live in a single room flat ; i hope you realise that those people are not the well educated ones. But..” ROMANIAN people” ? I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody from a foreign country would say such a thing about us, but you are a romanian and you still put as all in the same pot. Shame on you! Really, shame on you! The fact that some thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people do something which may not be completely rational, this doesn’t mean that the entire “ROMANIAN” population (21 millions or so) is the same. Again, i am very dissapointed that it is a romanian guy who doesn’t sense the difference.
      And no, it is not a shit hole you live in. Or…sorry if you actually live in a toilet. Romania is an amazing country with amazing people. There are those people you mentioned who indeed ruin our reputation all around the world and make our lifes difficult here too, but bear in mind that that is not ROMANIA, that is just the dark side of it. Your eyes are so blinded that you can’t see the rest anymore.
      Anyway..to sum up…shame on you!

      Sorry for the grammar mistakes. My english is obviously not perfect yet.

      • kyo says:

        Let him be Ion … he is obviously blinded by the hardships pressing on his shoulders. Visiting Romania as a tourist may be quite a blast and make you say big things about it but, we all know living here and getting a shitty job with high studyes is depressing. We have many great things but sadly, our people becomes more ignorant and aggresive wich every passing day. Not to mention that the average people who doesen’t own a house or appartament, can barely make it every month with rent payment and food … neddless to say we need clothes and entertainment for morale. Oh well … (using your words) to sum it up, bad or good Romania is our country and we can only hope that younger generations may preserve it or change it for the better because just like the internet conectivity, theyr brains run a lot faster than ours …

        • Anil P. says:

          The article is about the Internet in Romania, focusing on that doesn’t blind me to other things. But it would seem that many of your countrymen and women disagree with you as it were.

          • kyo says:

            well i might be wrong but, those countrymen and women you speak of, might live on their happy little cloud with some part of the future showing on their horison :) as for myself, i’m under that little cloud .. not much school behind me and english learned from cartoons as a kid and let me tell you .. i have to dig for every little bit of my futture with bare hands and sweat to support my fammily with minimum wage but even so .. if you decide to visit Romania and especially my city Constanta, just mail me and i think i can affourd to have a beer with you and show you some of this city’s wonders (besides hot babes in the summer season) :))

  25. Just Nobody says:

    There a lot of things you don’t know, maybe. First was desire, second was business and after that comes necesity. Well, I worked in a company (ISP) and I am telling you, the most important thing was freedom!!! Now I will explain what I just wrote to you. We had poor internet through the phone line. Mihai Batraneanu, a name you should know and remember had a ISP and used is time and resources to promote internet. He gave thousands and thousands of hours as gifts to many people, especially young people. Those people wanted more and more and they made local networks 2-10 or maybe 20 computers linked in T1 ways to share what some of them got it from internet (information, pictures, songs, movies). After that we wanted more and business rise up the level and starts to buy people who owned those local networks (people who got on their name a fiber connection to share with friends or just kept the switches and routers in their home). Companies were allowed to put cables everywhere, even over your houses or windows with no respect of good sense of aesthetic, but people not anymore. So local networks were eated by little companies -ISP and when those get enough clients, they were taken by bigger IPS. Because it was about many millions of dollar bribes every months, the authorities did nothing against companies little ones or big ones such RDS or Astral or others. Alot of IPS puts in the middle of the night cables over large streets or blocks or highways. This is not possible in America without som jail, right? :D Everybody was happy, ISP’s got the money, authorities got money and people use to use internet higher and higher until it become a daily habit. So, now, almost everybody has at home paid internet because we feel is normal to have t like is normal for you to have phone, radio or TV. That was part with freedom. Without no freedom of extending networks and down prices of devices with internet options we couldn’t have what we have. Now internet is a must here for many people and companies who have business online or just have a profile on yahoo or facebook. That’s was the story in a short version.

  26. diodoruscronus says:

    The technical explanation is weird and wrong. Only one major provider from four is using LAN as infrastructure, the others no. We don’t build cables, modems, switches and repeaters, we’re just using them wisely. The simple explanation at hand, is that all of them are available in almost every building in major cities, so there’s competition, hence the speed :).

  27. danut says:

    let’s speak business. If there is such a strong infrastructure an formidable engineeres, why don’t you compare the internet based business, to get the real picture

  28. Andrei says:

    The statistics used are not relevant. The fixed broadband penetration should not be calculated relative to population, but to household (if you have 4 family members you won’t get 4 broadband connections). Relevant statistics can be found here: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=isoc_ci_in_h&lang=en

    Secondly, there is one overlooked aspect: mobile broadband. Romania was one of the first countries in the world with nationwide 3G coverage and one of the first to implement LTE. There is a race between operators towards nationwide LTE coverage.

    The main reason infrastructure is so well developed in the SE Europe region is a combination of greenfield investment (rather than upgrades in more developed Western Europe) and high EBITDA margins. When you are working on a, best case scenario, 35% EBITDA, such as France or UK, your business case for network upgrade is not going to be as pretty as it would be when you have a 60-65% EBITDA. High profitability margins lead to innovation and high level of investments. It has more to do with an economic model and social landscape is just an effect of those investments.

    Coming back to the price of broadband: CAPEX investments lead to OPEX efficiency. Higher capacity leads to an efficient network. 4G for example is much more efficient (in terms of cost to carry, both Eur/GB and Eur/customer) than 3G which is much more efficient than 2G. OPEX efficiency and high capacity enables operators to look for volumes at lower prices.

    • Anil P. says:

      The statistics are both from Eurostat; one using number of broadband connections per capita. The study you cite doesn’t account for broadband access.