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.
More 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].
Some 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.
Romania’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.
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!
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!
its an article about romania, not bulgaria, learn to read.
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.
“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
All the reasons Akila mentioned in her comment.
Great article. Every travel blog that I’ve read has loved Bulgaria. I think we’ll have to check it out.
A very overlooked country indeed.
It’s an article about Romania!
It’s about Romania, NOT Bulgaria
Amazing article!!! My hubby and I read it with great interest.
Thank you Anjuli, I’m glad you enjoyed this technical tale 🙂
Interesting. I’m at another desirable digital nomad location right now, and while the Internet is not as fast, it is free and plenty available in almost all corners, from all shops, including high-end restaurants. The difference is that open, unsecured access points are very rare here. Every shop will gladly provide the wireless key upon request. In Romania, a hotbed of cybercrime and identity theft, I’d be somewhat hesitant to log in and access any old Internet connection.
Granted, a wireless password is not bulletproof protection, but it’s one more layer of security. A VPN service should really be a necessary expense if you access bank accounts on the road or care who may access your emails.
Hi Rich, where are you now?
(Curious too, have the comment issues cleared up?)
Hi Anil! I’m currently in Antigua Guatemala, a wonderful colonial-style city and the first “digital city” in Central America. Supposedly, this means that free public wi-fi is available in the main square and in a radius of about 1.5km. I’ll be testing that out later and reporting on my experiences. Internet is a must-have everywhere I’d like to stay long term, which is what caught my eye about your post.
Your iPad theme is very cool and would like to implement something similar on my site at some point. The only issue for me was that the comment would not post (I’m using laptop now). I tried turning off the theme using the option at the bottom, but that didn’t work. Eventually, I was able to get a “comment submitted” notification by using an alternate browser other than Safari. No idea what what happened.
Hope all else is well and wish you safe and happy travels 🙂
Interesting to hear and completely understandable, I am tied to the Internet as well 🙂 Antigua is a place that I hear about often – and almost always good.
Thanks also for the feedback on the iPad theme, hopefully it was a temporary issue and I’ll take a look at the settings to double check.
Thanks again and happy travels to you as well.
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
These types of study tend to vary depending on how the tests are taken:
Romania is undoubtedly one of the world’s fastest; that particular study is just one example.
The more I hear about Romania, the more I think I MUST check it out.
Definitely! Spring or fall are good times before it gets too cold 🙂 …but the Internet is fast year round.
You’ll be welcomed here!
oh how i would love to be in such a place.
fastest internet connection available in egypt is 2mbps. an average home, however, gets the 512kbps connection, they are more affordable. and no matter what type of connection you pay for, it is never fully functioning, for some weird reason no Egyptian ever discovered till now 😀
That would be frustrating over a long period of time, I remember it being a matter of chance when I was in Egypt. Like the Internet connection had a mood, some days good, some days bad! In Romania it is always in a good mood. Well, at least the Internet anyway 🙂
Well what can I say about the internet connection here is that I had the opportunity to enjoy speeds of 24 MB per second and it was awesome. I really think I would get frustrated if the internet were as slow as it is in Egypt.
Romania has been on my list of destinations for a while. This is just one more reason to visit. Thanks for telling the story!
Hopefully you’ll get there soon. I can only imagine by then the Internet will be even faster 🙂
I agree on the Bulgaria comments… Been there, great place. Truly a remarkable country.
stay adventurous, Craig.
I think the name is what deters people. They need a good travel slogan… 🙂
I’m a Romanian and I want to thank you for this article.
Many of the natural beauties of Romania are well known outside the country, but the technical details posted by you here (including the kind words about the highly trained Romanian IT specialists) are things that not many people thought Romania was capable of.
And, to give everyone another reason to visit this country, I remember a Swiss woman telling Financial Times in an interview from last year that “Switzerland is like a garden compared to this.” – here is the full article: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/eca83348-0174-11e1-b177-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1cp0wjzlM
Thanks again for this post, Anil.
Hi Adrian, I should thank you for the very kind comment and honor. I was immediately drawn to this story and hope that in the long run this focus on the sciences is a powerful asset in Romania’s economy.
The photos in the article are beautiful too, I’d love to visit again – next time though when it’s a bit warmer 😉
OK, then it’s settled! Don’t forget to look me up next time you’re in Romania – we’ll have a beer or two 🙂
Hi Adrian – hopefully you are following this thread. My wife and I may be headed to Romania in August or September and would love to connect offline. If you could email me (tyler …at… owlandbear dot org) or through our digital nomad travel blog, owlandbear.org, that would be great!
Hi Tyler. Thanks for your message! I’ll send you an email today.
When i read the article, i thought you were Romanian. I think you understood and explained this phenomenon better than any Romanian blog post I’ve ever seen ! It’s a wonderful thing to see someone appreciating our country. It’s ashame though, even with this high nerd to person ratio, the average people are less informed and uneducated than in the US I think, and that’s mainly because they are poor. God speed in your journeys.
Thank you Alexandru, I’m touched and happy I’ve been able to describe this aspect of Romania as well as a local 🙂 I do hope that the high level of education and nerd ratio come to help Romania immensely in the near future. They are incredible assets to be proud of.
Thank you again and all the best.
Hi, Anil, and congrats for the article!
I’m from Romania too, working in the tourism industry for a couple of years now. I love the way travel & internet have connected during the past years. I mean that most people come here and visit / see something spectacular, take a pic and can immediately connect to a wireless network and upload the photo to social sites (Facebook, Twitter etc) or check in on Foursquare, thus recommending it to their friends and promoting that specific place. Internet here is a huge advantage, as you perfectly put it in your article!
If I can be of any use to you or your readers with info on Romania, let me know! 🙂
Hi Dana, thank you very much. I can’t imagine travel without the Internet now and am thankful for it as it’s providing my livelihood in a way impossible 15+ years ago. And it was nice to see the upload/download bars zip across my screens in Romania – I felt like I was actually *in* the Internet!
It’s great to read this awesome article as a romanian! Thank you and I hope each and every reader will come and get a glimpse at our beautiful country!
And don’t hesitate about contacting one of us to find out more details. We are always happy to help!
I appreciate that very much and do hope more people are encouraged to visit Romania as well 🙂
nice article, makes me proud of being Romania. If anyone comes to Romania especially Sighisoara and souroundings i`m more than happy to offer you info. I live in Tg Mures (a town near sighisoara 50km) and also run a blog for events , lifestyle, food and stuff like this Mures county related. so basicly i know where is the best place for accomodation , events happening, best places for partys, traditional food and drinks. So don`t hesitate to write me on email contact(at)outinmures.ro and i`ll try to advice you :))
PS: the blog is only in romanian because i don`t have time for writing in other languages at the moment but i`m planning to write in english also :D. i have more time since i graduated med school this year 😀
Whenever I am in the area I’ll try and remember to get in touch! I’m always open to local information from a local! (And congrats on finishing med school!!)
You can’t compare US to Romania, US has 300M in population, we have less than 20. US has a lot more ground to cover, we… not so much.
About how much do we learn in school about IT, believe me when I say this, we do not learn anything useful in school about IT. We study a little bit of C++ and HTML in high school but that’s it. Everything else comes from our own interrest in this domain of work.
About everything else presented in the article, no comment, you did your homework before writing this article.
That is true, population distribution has a big part to play and noted above in the article. As for C++ and HTML in high school, that’s very much further than many classes in the U.S. and Turkey at the moment. Though I think programming should be standard for all students anywhere beginning at even earlier ages. It will become a critical skill in the near future.
I can tell you did not follow an IT faculty, as you would not have said that. True, we do study lots of mathematics and physics (maybe too much), but in the end you get it that you cannot do IT related stuff witouth being quite good at it. Try going to Polytechnics to study IT, speak after that.
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.
Bulgaria or Romania or both?
Internet speed is measured in bits not bytes.
Multiply by 8, now you’ve turned those bytes into bits.
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.
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.
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.
Cheers and really happy I was able to connect with Romania’s geeks and that this is a go-to article of nerd pride for you 🙂
“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…?
I’m not saying that, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is. Hit the link above for details.
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”. 🙂
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.
By reading some of the comments I’m prone to think Bulgaria has hired people to praise their country everywhere Romania gets mentioned. 🙂
The national pride is infectious 😉
considering that half of romanians live in rural areas and most of those by subsistence farming, it’s amazing there are engineers at all.
It’s an interesting dynamic, certainly.
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. :))
Well there is something certainly to be said for things that can’t be quantified like curiosity and drive 🙂
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.
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 …
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.
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) :))
Congratulations for your positive attitude and how you explained the things. This is the correct attitude.
@ Florea Calin: shame on you because you have this opinion about Romania, and you are a Romanian citizen as me and Ion! You shall learn first from were actually the European civilization started…
@ Anil…if you can visit Romania and see how nice and kind the people are here…and enjoy first the culture side of country and than internet access capability and so on…!
All the best to all of you!
It will be my second visit to the country and I look forward to going back!
my first post was a comment for 2 users. Nice website by the way and i am thankful to you because you can appreciate our country as it is (Romania). Can you please forward back to me last message in order to post is as a reply (i was nervous about one Romanian user comment and i did a mistake).
Greetings from Sibiu, Romania!
Thank you in advance!
I an from Bulgaria and I never got used to the extremely shitty internet connection when I lived in Spain. That is when I got familiar with these statistics. Obviously I’ll feel the same way when I stay almost anywhere else but in Eastern Europe…
BTW, the access to internet should be a human right and the connection must be as fast as possible.
Unless you’re going to South Korea, it’s hard to live up to the Eastern European Internet standards 😉
I’m looking forward to the day satellites blanket the world with free wireless but think any large-scale global connections – fast or otherwise – are a long way off.
Meanwhile, “Ionut Budisteanu of Romania Wins Top Prize at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair”.
“Ionut Budisteanu, 19, of Romania was awarded first place for using artificial intelligence to create a viable model for a low-cost, self-driving car at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public.”
PS – Eat this, Google! 😀
“megabytes per second (mbps)”
You’re right, should be megabits. I’ve corrected it.
Interesting study but it’s clear that you have only visited Romania and not actually have lived here. Because your reasons while based on true facts play actually a small role in why we enjoy high speed internet connections. There are two main reasons why Romania beat a lot of more countries in this area:
1. Cost of investment. Internet in Romania has actually lagged a few years behind the rest of Europe in terms of wide-spread use. This means that when we finally started to build nation-wide networks we could do so at a fraction of the costs of the other countries. So while ISPs in other countries are still trying to recover the costs of investments with expensive fees that make widespread use an impossibility, in Romania anyone can have a 100Mbps line for as little as $10/month.
2. Piracy. Being a poor country actually helped here. Since the average Romanian can’t really shell out $10 for a movie or for music DVDs/CDs and a Microsoft Office license is about the average monthly salary, it means that the country is full of pirated software and media. So P2P networks, torrents and such are a common requirement for most internet users in Romania. Now having a 1Mbps burst ADSL connection is quite enough for your regular web needs. But if you want to download the latest movie then a 100Mbps connection really comes in handy. So there was strong demand for ISPs to deliver high speed connections.
So the combination of high demand and low prices really is what really drove the internet to these kind of record speeds in Romania.
I would be interested to take a look at any resources you could provide to support your arguments. As for the first point, if you invert the list of dates when nations got online in significant numbers and the speed of Internet connections, there isn’t much correlation. But when it comes to Internet penetration and speeds, much more so.
I’ve been working on websites ever since most people here had just dial-up connections. I have friends in many ISP companies and they’ve been feeding me information on costs all this time. I don’t know of any studies just inside info. Internet in Romania basically rode several waves of innovation in technology that made the widespread use of internet really cheap.
Regarding piracy I can’t provide any studies. However I have to wonder how accurate these studies really are. I mean you can’t just go up to someone and ask him how much software and movies he pirated in the past year or so. But again I have to live here and I would have to be blind and deaf not to see the degree of piracy going on. It’s a fairly simple equation driven by average income. Prices on software are fixed regardless of income all over the world. But they truly are services not hard goods that have fixed material costs built into them. For instance, if you buy MS Office in US, you write a nice CV you get a job that’s worth 10x the value of the software. So for a US buyer it makes sense to invest 10% of his first salary into software. But what if you earned much less? What if MS Office would cost 50% of your salary? Wouldn’t you be more inclined to get it off the internet for free? Same with movies. In Romania we don’t even have access to netflix. But everybody’s watching vplay.com for free instead.
A few have:
and doesn’t seem people are shy about admitting pirating either, 63% in Romania and 57% worldwide. Although there are other, more technical ways to monitor pirating, I think it’s safe to say many people everywhere are doing it. I’m not convinced that pirating software produces a significant push on ISPs to deliver faster speeds. Consider Turkey, similar GDP with Romania, pirates at a rate similar to Romania, but has half the average Internet speed.
Population density is a more important factor. Either way, people want faster connections and can barely wait 400 milliseconds for a webpage to load:
I do appreciate your anecdotes but, even people in rich countries people pirate content…that’s already free 😉
Anil, I would come and say that since you wrote the article, some Internet Service Providers in Romania have increased their speed limits over the fiber connection. Downloading large files which size up to gigabytes is a matter of seconds up to few minutes now.
aahh! I wish I could enjoy those kind of download speeds everywhere in the world!!
Hello Anil. I’m Romanian and I’ve been to South Korea, experiencing both nations’ internet. I’ve only been to Seoul so I cannot speak for the entire country but I’ve experienced faster speed to a degree while being in a South Korean home than in a Romanian home and the internet coverage is out of this world (you have internet wireless access even on the subway and on the bus by way of small routers mounted on public transportation vehicles). All that being said there is a downside to South Korean internet wireless coverage: most of it belongs to SK, KT and LGU+ and the prices for access to one of these networks, per month, ranges between 30 and 50$. Luckily people in South Korea make good money and are able to afford these rates and it was really a joy to see people from youngest to oldest on their smartphones throughout Seoul (I’ve seen tons of old people fiddling with their smarphones on the internet). I’m living in Cluj-Napoca, if you make your way through here I’d love to give you a full paid tour of the city (payment is accompanying me to some of the great pubs/cafes and a good conversation to go with ^_^). Cheers!
Thank you very much! South Korea is on my short list of next places to visit and would be happy to take you up on your offer.
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 :).
Any resources you can provide for me to look over?
Wow, a year-old post and still active! I just found it via my facebook newsfeed (that I access via my awesomely fast Eastern European Internet connection 😛 ) and I have to say, of all the travel blogs and tourist feedback I’ve read about my country, yours is the first sort of…tech-tourist-review. Good job!
Next time you’re in or around Bucharest, drop me a line (email is in the comment form), I’d be more than glad to show you some other awesome things about Romania often times overlooked by foreigners.
But back on topic: even though you say it isn’t so, part of the reason why Internet in Romania is so fast is that we joined the band-wagon (or should I say the bandWIDTH-wagon? :)) ) a bit later than most. Which meant that while other, more developed countries, had an infrastructure built at the dawn of the Internet that was still working and being maintained, companies in Romania had to build their own, and they started out with faster, newer, better equipment, just because that’s what was available at the time. The same companies decided it would be better in the long-run to invest in immediately upgrading that infrastructure as soon as new technologies became available – which is why all major ISP`s now offer broadband through fiber-optics backbones at dirt-cheap prices (I pay a little under 10 euros a month for my subscription, and get 100mbps of bandwidth on paper, which translates to constant average speeds of up to 50-60 mbps externally, and even more for metropolitan connections)
To wrap my comment up, while I do not deny the contribution of our local geekdom to the fast and furious ascent of the Internet in Romania, we also owe it, in part and paradoxically enough, to being a little behind on the development index.
haha, you’re probably reading this before I type it the Internet is so fast in Romania 😉 I’m happy to be the first tech-tourist review, computers are my passion.
I’d be happy to get in touch as I’ll be in Romania and Bucharest toward the end of June. I’ve gotten so many offers from everyone there, it’s easiest to keep track of me on Facebook:
I’ll announce any meet ups and when I’m arriving there and on my upcoming stops page:
Thanks and hope to meet you in Romania.
If you’re considering hanging around Satu Mare,contact me 😉
I just missed you, I was in Romania a few weeks ago but only in Sibiu this time.
Decently close.Hope you’ll return soon and spend some time in Satu Mare.When you do.let me know at [EDIT: email removed] 😉
Thanks George, I’ll certainly keep it in mind. (Omitted your email address above to save you from spam.)
Ok … Hopefully you get save it somewhere and let me know 😛
I did and will also post my travel plans here:
Yes in Romania we have a 1GB/s Internet speed just in every city!!
Any idea why my last comment didn`t make it past your filters? (if it did and there’s a fluke on my side, delete this one)
Typically on the first comment it holds them for approval. No fault of your own, my spam filter is just cautious.
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. 🙂
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.
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?
AND you forgot to mention how cheap it is 🙂 you can get a monthly contract (just the internet) for just 20 lei (the equivalent of about 5 euros)
Speaking of cheap and fast there is now an offer for 1Gbps at 18$ / month.
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.
I appreciate the added info Remus, thanks!
Glad I could help, Anil.
Best of luck.
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.
“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.
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.
Cool, I was planning to move to Rumania or Bulgaria(or both!) this summer to keep blogging!! Great to read this!! 😀
Great time for the weather but rain or shine, you’ll be spoiled by the connections in both countries!
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.
The statistics are both from Eurostat; one using number of broadband connections per capita. The study you cite doesn’t account for broadband access.
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.
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:)
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.
Hello, I’m from Romania too and I just wanted to post a speedtest:
Thanks for sharing!
And one from Constanţa city (from RDS, biggest ISP around here)
That’s what I get on the local provider in my small city. I live in Domnesti, at 10km from Bucharest, and this is the speed of the smallest plan of my ISP: MITNet (Millenium IT)
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.
I left Romania a few years ago and came to Germany.
I left a 100Mbps connection, 10$/month, with about 3 to 5 hours/year downtime.
I got a 16Mbps (not really), 30€(aprox 40$)/month, with a 7 days downtime in my first 10 days of contract. And they were not the only days …
As about the mobile services, while here I’m loosing signal just moving from one room to another, or have coverage problems no matter where I am, or what provider I’m using, in Romania I got 3G connection everywhere, with only few exceptions. (Apropos, we are the second country in EU who implemented the 4G technology).
Is it possible to get a 1600km dedicated line from Romania ? 😛
If you can figure that out you’ll be a very rich person!!
I think this is one of the most beautiful articles about my country in a very long time. Romania FTW 🙂
Thank you, I appreciate the compliment and happy to hear it.
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.
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.
I mention population density in the article.
Figured I’ll share my speedtest result from my job.
I’m also from Romania:)
The upload speed almost makes my eyes pop out of my head 🙂
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.
@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
Romania is getting the Gigabit speed :)))
No need for translation, tech language is universal :))
We are poor, but God has gave us some sweets like the Internet Connection (nice torrenting)
RDS launches 1Gbps and 500Mbps internet services at about 14 euros and 11 euros respectively. What about THAT? 😀
Our internet services at 1Gbps and 500Mbps are available almost in ALL OUR NETWORK – more than 150 cities, practically where we already have infrastructure based on fiber optics.
There should be a * somewhere.
*the speed is UP TO 1Gbps, i don’t think anyone besides the main tester EVER’s going to have that speed. Plus, most of the romanian ppl don’t know they need a gigabit network card.
That’s true. But I don’t think anyone besides the main tester EVER’s going to need that speed 🙂
Really though, can the Internet ever be too fast? 😉
I was seeling this type of internet 1Gb/s for Nextgen… for 10 euros. In 2012. One guy couldn’t believe what i was saying and after couple of days i’ve met him, and he told me that’s going to buy a new Hardware because the speed it’s limited to 125MB/s…So he’s PC it’s out of date..He needed that speed for Bluray Movies.. 32GB one movie..
You should know that all the computers from 2010 since now have Gigabit network cards…
No they don´t, i bought my PC in 2011 , and it didn´t had a gigabite network card. If you know what you´re buying, yes, you will never buy without gigabit network card.
Maybe where you live, you can only find Dell or HP workstations.
True romanians don’t buy brand PCs, they build them up. You can build a mid end gaming PC for the price of the cheapest HP, suitable only for office work…
Actualy, almost every 3-4 year old computer has a gigabit network card. The providers offers also a gigabit wan router. I have this connection and speedtest.net shows 933 mbps. Most of my friends also have this gigabit connection, and they all have 700-950 mbps speeds.
The internet Speed in Romania has gotten even faster.
RDS the biggest internet and cable provider in Romania is launching an internet service that offers speeds up to 1gbps/s for something like 16-17$.
Fast and cheap.
I wish I could have those kind of speeds with me everywhere!
And we should mention the mobile internet access on 3G/HSDPA that works solid at 7.2Mbit/s and goes up to 4G since 2013 spring. It’s fast and country wide, still sold by traffic volume by the 3 big providers (Vodafone, Orange and Cosmote), price is going down and is affordable, practically the speed is so high, that 1GByte of data (about 8 euros monthly) is kind of minimum to have available for a smartphone.
On the other hand, RDS provider mentioned earlier also gives to its customers a free of charge 3G/HSDPA usb modem (with a SIM) with no traffic limit to be used on their mobile network, so anywhere I go across the country I have internet. The SIM can be used also in a dual SIM smartphone or a tablet. That is besides the free WiFi installed in the subway stations.
I can’t wait to be back in Romania later this year and make use of it!
I have vodafone LTE in Romania. Tests show 75 mpbs download
VDSL connections provided by Romtelecom (largest wired telephony company) ranges from 10Mbps to 100Mbps. I have 70Mbps down and 20Mbps up … and damn it if it ever goes any slower 🙂 And it goes fast as hell on IPs from all over the world, not only in the metro area of bucharest.
We have to thank all those who worked day and night to create the LAN networks and kept them running for years and thus they ruined the large business model of “give them nothing and ask for everything in return”. Some 16-20 year old kids have created this, not your average MEGAULTRAHYPERLARGE Corporation. Respect to them!
I will add my thanks to my fellow (Romanian) computer nerds 🙂
Please elucidate about the ethernet LANs that split up their networks. I don’t understand what they mean about this. Thousands throughout Romania? What do they mean by this?
The ethernet LANs here are neighbourhood connections. Since there are so many apartment buildings in Bucharest, in almost every area you will find a network of several dozens users forming a big LAN, which is then powered by one of the large Internet providers. Connections have unlimited bandwidth and usually run at 70-80 Mbps (up to the “standard” 100 Mbps).
A couple of years ago, these neighborhood LANs were very advantageous, offering speeds and prices that the ISPs couldn’t match. And given that there were so many of these LANs, the ISPs had to drop the prices for them, resulting in very low fees for each user.
But in the last 3-4 years, ISPs have been offering 100Mbps connectios for the same price you would pay in a neighbourhood LAN, but with much higher reliability (neighbourhood LANs drop connections, as the cables are all outside between the buildings, especially bad during powerful storms).
As of November, Romania gets its first 1000 Mbps connection, under provider RDS, for around 17$ / month.
it means when it all began there were street companies that provided internet, let’s say 1 company can provide internet to 2000 apartments, only for those 2000 clients there are 5 competing ISP’s. When the big companies came, they simply bought the small companies and upgraded the infrastructure.
At the moment i am writing this, at home 2 meters away from my door i have switches from 3 major ISPs (currently i also have 2 internet connections in my apartment one 100Mbps down/ 100 Mbps upload and a 200Mbps down / 6Mbps upload ).
In that context the “split up networks” and thousands means that every few streets you have an ISP that has fiber optics connection to the backbone and from there you have something that remembles a LAN for those streets.
Meaning: I get an internet connection from 1/2 ISPs install some network equipment (router, switches, server, cables …) and sell that to my neighbors cheaper than the ISP.
For example I get a 1gb/s connection like Alexandru describer at ~17$, another 100mb/s connection at 12$ (other ISP, just for redundancy), install a router or server to split up bandwidth. After that i sell internet to neighbors at <10$ .For 1x 1gb/s connection you can have almost 18 clients running at ~100mb/s (1gb/s = 1,000 mb/s) just because statistically they wouldn't ever be online at the same time and if they do…well nobody guaranties your speed especially when you pay let's say 8$/month.
This example can be also adjusted for deserving a larger number of clients (buy better internet connections, pull a few fibers of your own…bla bla bla)
There used to be neighborhood LANs in the era where internet was expensive and slow (Dial-up). They were used mostly to play online games in multiplayer and also share movies, music and games by peer-to-peer services such as oDC. Once the major companies started wiring up cities, they found it was a lot cheaper to buy the infrastructure from existing LANs and only providing the internet connection to it, rather than build a network from scratch.
LANs (Local Area Networks) are limited in the distance they can carry information. Small Internet intermediary companies (‘thousands of them’) are using this cheap technology to connect home users.This means, that the technological limit of the end-user cabling (if the latest technology is used) is 1 Gbs, but it’s a minimum of 100Mbs. These small providers then can hook up with backbone operators or major providers, buy bulk bandwidth cheap and sell – also cheap – to the end user.
To counter this, major operators are trying to buy out these small businesses but it’s a lost battle: there always be others.
Also, you can’t just double or triple the price after a buyout, (romanian laws regulate this) so sometimes, it’s not even worth the financial effort.
Bottom line is that finding 100Mbs internet in romanian densely populated areas is as common as tap water or electricity these days.
I will try to explain by making a comparison:
Imagine a tree, that the strain is the ISP, there are main branches that reach out, those are smaller companies that buy internet from the main one, then there are even smaller branches and those are the even smaller, lastly you have the leaves, the home users.
If you cut a branch all the other branches and leaves connected to that one will go away. That’s the same with internet, if a major ISP looses connectivity then all his users will be offline.
In Bucharest we had plenty of branches like these, we had small but robust networks varying from 100 to 1000 or even more users, some networks merged to increase their power and gain more clients.
Back in the day there were switches (or signal splitters) on the roof of buildings from at least one and up to three or four different networks. The sky looked like a spider web, the lightning poles were heavy loaded with fiber optic cables.
There were a few ISPs from who we bought internet and they sold it expensive at first but then other major companies came and they started to sell it, they began to run fiber optics through the city and others would start to buy from them. So the prices became competitive and came more accessible.
We evolved fast but we worked hard, I myself ran hundred of miles of cables from building to building, we used to even connect 30 – 40 people a day to the network.
Hope this answers your question.
Thanks everyone for helping Marge out! (See, the Internet really *is* faster in Romania!)
yes but all the neighbourhood internet connections here in Romania face the same problem: sabotage. every day boys come from the providers and rewire different buildings because the equipment is attacked.
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.
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 …
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.
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? 😀 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.
No maybe about it, there are a lot of things I don’t know 😉 Not limited to Romanian Internet but appreciate the enlightenment on this topic.
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
I don’t know quite what you’re asking but feel free to do it yourself and send post the results here.
🙂 De ce nu scrieti in romaneste? Si asa li se rupe lor de internetu nostru.. Oricum bravo baietilor care au inceput treaba. Daca nu erau ei eram la mana corporatiilor.
Mostly because it’s very hard for me to translate and then determine what’s valid content versus spam (which I unfortunately get a lot of in various languages). I’ll do my best but appreciate the English comments so I can learn and chat with everyone as well.
Yet another “romanians are smartest, loved poeple in the world – what a pitty they are poor”. [EDIT]
I don’t get where you’re pulling that out of in what I wrote.
I commented in english and you didn’t approve my comment. May I ask why?
On this post?
Hi everyone – thank you very much for the comments, lively discussion, and information. If I missed any of your questions feel free to bump them since I may have lost them in the mix while reading your responses.
I remember when I was in Romania in 2001. I got internet from a company called FX. I still have the contract right now in my house. I would get 16kb/s up&down, 1GB internet limit per month, at a staggering price of 30$/month.
Then I remember in 2002 I switched to Astral. this time it was 32kb/s up&down, and 3GB limit per month. Price was about 20$/month.
Remember, at that time, 20$ was like 10% of your salary, or even more.
Ahh, how times have changed. Now there’s plenty of ISP’s to choose from, and prices are dirt cheap.
As a Romanian student in the UK this makes me sad. ISPs over here offer 16mbps (on paper only) and you get 10mbps maximum. Divide that by the number of flatmates and you can barely watch a YouTube video. Pathetic.
Western Europe really does suck at Internet:
I can imagine coming from Romania it’s especially digitally-jarring 🙂
pffft, nonsense, been on 60mg over 2 years here (uk)
So here,the real 1 Gbps speed RDS is already offering in Romania .. It started last year, for residential areas!
It uses GPON tehnology .. This year these speeds will be available country wide! So yeah .. i watch HD tv very very easy!!! The second fastest broadband operator wich is UPC , offers speed at a max of 200 Mb/s = 25 MB/s
For 1 Gbps conection we have SSD ,hard drives and 4 core cpu’s 🙂 …
The ISP that drags Romania down,is Romtelecom,wich still uses xDSL and vDSL… All the others use LAN(cat 5e) or fiber optic cables to connect you directly to their fiber optic network
Awesome! I have internet from RDS, 100Mbps and I download from utorrent with 11 Mps. i think I should upgrade to 1 Gbps because I have SSD and 4 core CPU (3.2 GHZ each). nice speed :))
I remember when I first moved to Denmark I could barely stream a video, being used to the high-speed connections at home, I just couldn’t understand what the problem was while paying such large fees for Internet. After 1 and 1/2 years I don’t feel the contrast so harshly, yet now that you reminded me of our good old Internet speed I’m getting a bit frustrated with my bills :))
Don’t we all wish we could travel with Romanian Internet speeds? 🙂
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.
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.
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?
I was avoiding the naked truth. By mistake, if not by ignorance. An ALL commentators alike. Let’s put it this way. As everything romanian, even this project of connecting people between each other and the world is unrefined. Not just that, but recklessly carried out. Nothing is made up to the standards (as romanians use to say “it works like that also”), and the internet connections are not an exception. Everywhere you raise your eyes towards the sky in urban areas (villages too) you’ll notice a maze of cables – that ruins your skyline photos. The normal way of doing it is underground, in a specific housing, at least the “civilized” way, but here nothing was dug, as it would commit a serious amount of work, and prices would have been much more like yours (speeds too). As a result to this, the internet is cheap, possibility to change/upgrade are nearer, with minimal costs, and all lighting posts, houses, fences, apartment blocks, trees, and alike, are supporting the interweb cables. TV cables too :).
Erata: *lighting poles* 😀
You are exaggerating. What you are saying isn’t the general rule. On my street(Oradea) for example the cables run through the ground. There are certain crowded areas especially in Bucharest where there are mazes of cables hooked to the poles. These things are getting fixed and they depend on the rules made by each city. In my town you are not allowed to put hook an air conditioner outside a tower block situated on a main street because it ruins the view. Cable mazes on poles are also not allowed and so on.
I think not, I think you are generalizing a single street on your hometown (or a couple of them). Take a look at this:
as a minor example, you’ll see cables on poles and on building, right in Oradea :). As a matter of fact, there is one street in Timisoara, my city, same as yours, no cables outside. The law exists, but it’s not reinforced, as everything romanian. You know why? Because “merge si asa” :). Nothing is allowed, but everything ;).
So you are exaggerating. A picture of the old town center doesn’t sustain your claims(there aren’t even cables mazes in that picture, there are so many you can even count them). It’s not a single street it’s my hole neighborhood.
Depends on what you understand by maze :D. But the idea remains the same, you can see cables everywhere (not just the old town, in the apartment blocks areas are more), it was a simple illustration of a fact. There’s Google’s street view, you know? :D. I’m a photographer, so I really know what I’m talking about, as it ruins every damn picture I take. Three cables on a pole, one on the building, and two crossing the street are as many as too much, you don’t see this in the countries with warm water :D. The classic example, of mazes made by more or less cables: https://www.google.ro/search?q=cabluri+stalpi+oradea&safe=off&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=6A2KUovwAcmD4ATw3oHgAg&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1680&bih=930 . Cheap and fast Internet is because of this, you do the math. This is the reason:
regardless of your obsolete “patriotism”. And btw, the article’s name is “… in Romania”, not just Oradea, and my city, Timisoara, has the fastest download in the world, and I can say that ALL the cables are outside, except only one street, despite the fact that here is a law, exactly like in your town, which doesn’t allow this (the climatiser are being removed in TM too 😉 ). Now get a grip and stop arguing me, as I’m not faulty for this, I’m just noticing a fact, that works as an answer to the given question.
I got the new 1Gbps connection. The test reads 860 Mbps down and 107 Mbps up.
visit bucharest ! 🙂
I have and hope to be back soon!
And starting from November 2013 we have 1 Gbps internet connection AT HOME! In all major cities. Cost for 1 Gbps download bandwidth (no traffic limitation) = 13 EUR/ month
You’re racing with South Korea, I like where the bandwidth is going 🙂
What about our 1gbps internet connection ? How can they compete with that ?
Very well I would say:
And now,we also have 1gbps internet for about 8 euros… Romania is so awesome
For 59 lei ( about 14 euros) you can get yourself a Gigabit connection in Romania.
I thought i should share my results as well.Bear in mind that i was downloading DotA2 and Planetside 2 on steam at the same time while doing this 😀 And this is only an 150mbps connection not a 1gbps one. LINK
I appreciate you sharing, thanks.
Hi! Great article, i’m from Romania and i liked how you talked about my country. The internet speed it’s really great here. You can check out my speedtest here: http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3333766035
I liked your page and shared the article! 🙂
And i forgot to mention that my PC specs are very outdated. I want to upgrade it this mont because now i have only a dual core at 2 Ghz, 2 GB of RAM and an 256 MB DDR2 Nvidia GPU.
But even with that specs i get the great internet speed.
Thank you for sharing as well.
Yea..but personally , as a Romanian, I’d trade some MB/s with more highway kms !
When I moved to Bucharest in 2004 we got a Zapp mobile contract with 8/2Mb speed on it!
Today I run a WISP in Spain, and I tell you, people around here still are happy with 3Mb 3G connections. That’s ten years later.
Then, back in 2004, there were a lot of those LAN nets around, where we had local filesharing services all over the place and downloading something interesting normally arrived at ethernet speed (60-80Mb). I think people got spoiled by these speeds and demanded it everywhere, much earlier, than in many other countries.
Most Romanians I know are what we call early adapters. Such mentality pushes boundaries.
((If you never been in Romania, you should pay a visit. Do not make the mistake in thinking your local begger on the street has anything to do with it – he doesn’t. Romanians have got the most US-like mind of all Europeans, the self-made man is a hero, and if you can’t make it on your own, no one will lend you a hand.))
I have been to Romania, twice actually.
Just to add to this, the latest services offer 100Mb/s in Romania.
Cheer to that! 🙂
Another great article would be why is the internet in Australia so damn slow and inconsistent?
It mostly comes down to geographic distribution of the population; this post I wrote (albeit on Western Europe) has a few relevant answers:
We live amazing times in Romania when its about Internet speed.
I will never take these for granted. I remember the times when I used to crawl on the Internet using lynx at 200 bytes/sec speeds on a very expensive RoEduNet connection.
Now, I’m swimming in a cheap 1 Gbps at home for 12 eur/month. I see multiple providers rushing in to lay out optic fibers around all buildings, and I’m planning to go even higher soon to 2.5 Gbps. Heck, it even feels wrong to have only 1 Gbps for LAN when you have an external 1 Gbps, I feel compelled to go 10 Gbps for LAN.
I think it’s time you start writing about the mobile internet as well. We have 4G mobile internet coverage. I think we will be in top 5 countries that adopts 5G. Also, as well as the cable internet low prices, you should seriously write about the low prices for 4G mobile internet in Romania.
I think you may have had a time with the 4G on your phone in Romania 😀
It’s a good thought and not far from my radar 😉
Well, first of all I read the article and I was very pleased to read something good about Romania my country. Nowadays it’s seems that’s much more “trendy” to complain about your contry, to show only it’s negative parts…
However you wondered why is the internet so fast in Romania? Well it has to do a little bit with Romania being somehow a latecommer into the internet world, it also has to do a little bit with good technical skills of the general populace but that’s not all! Not all at all!
It has more than anything to do with how difficult or easy is to lay down a good infrastructure in terms of COSTS and paperwork! In Romania the ISP’s didn’t use an underground sistem for their optical fiber cables like the European Union requires. Instead they used an aerial sistem fot that matter. Thay dind’t even plant their own poles for that matter but instead used the poles owned by national elctricity (Enel or ELectrica)or commnunications (Ex-Romtelecom) companies, and nobody complaint about it until recently. Recently the Enel company required ISP’s that are using their poles to pay a monthly rental fee, and even so the ISP’s are always being late with the payment of rental fees.
The apartment buidings now look like a swiss chesse because their walls were drilled with rotary hammers for the optical fiber to come in our houses and no paperwork was done for that matter (like it is required in more western countries of the European Union) and nobody complaint about it maybe except for those retired old people in their mid to late sixies or seventieis who don’t understand the necessity of a good internet connection in present days, Those are the people who still regret the communist regime of Ceausescu, but that’s another story.
So if you ever wondered why are the internet connections so fast in Romania I hope this clearifies the problem.
We did make the prices ourselves, this before the large ass corporation started monopolizing, but still they don’t mess with us. I remember that most when I was little we would pay only half what they asked us. we’d all stay by our pretentions and simply refused to pay more than we considered it worth, all of us. for every time we had a problem we’d make a huge fuss. slowly but surely, they had no choice but to fit our demands. Back at my home my dad pays about 10 bucks for 2 providers, and has 3 permanent IP’s one connection bein of 1gps, the other 2 100mbps are free cause, y’know. we’re Romanians nd we know how to deal, unlike our leaders who sell everything else we have. Oh well guess we’ll just have to revolt and overthrow the government again
The writer speaks about low regulation but gives no details. Romania is being held up as a paragon of efficiency by the anti-net neutrality voices in the USA. But as a member of the EU one would assume that the country does follow net neutrality laws.
You’re mixing up contexts. We always had net neutrality in Romania, not as a consequence of regulation guarding it, but just because that’s how the Internet is supposed to work. If ISPs would try to push an anti-net neutrality agenda, thanks to the low amount of regulation, we can just fall back to our old ways of renting high speed lines for neighborhood networks. There’s no ISP monopoly, and hopefully it stays that way, which means we’re not locked in to whatever bullshit decisions a couple of large ISPs decide to push on us.