Although Internet penetration remains at relatively low rates compared to European standards, telecommunications in Moldova are maintained at a relatively high performance level. Companies managed to achieve good coverage in both wired and wireless communications infrastructure in this small country. Landline is available in most settlements, however mobile phone popularity has drammatically increased in recent years. The amount of mobile subscriptions is also growing fast compared to fixed lines, which are declining in numbers.
The Internet penetration rate was of 71.4% at the end of 2018. The launch of LTE services opened up a new revenue growth opportunity centred on mobile broadband. The national regulator proposed multi-spectrum auction with licenses valid to 2029, and prepares to issue new mobile licenses, although 3.4GHz auction had to be suspended after no bids were offered. Mobile-cellular teledensity reached 105 per 100 persons in 2018.
The Moldovan telecom market experienced years of growth, particularly in the fixed-line and mobile broadband sectors. In recent years, high unemployment rates and economic difficulties have led to constraints on consumer spend, which have severely impacted telecom revenue. This decline continued into the first half of 2019, with a fall in overall revenue of 5.4%. Although the penetration rate is well below the average for many European countries, there are many opportunities for further growth. The market is highly competitive, with 94 active ISPs, although Moldtelecom and Starnet have dominant positions. The number of cable broadband subscribers is increasing, though fibre is now by far the strongest sector. The mobile market has also grown rapidly, and the sector accounts for the majority of total telecoms revenue.
Despite recent progress, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. With a moderate climate and good farmland, Moldova’s economy relies heavily on its agriculture sector. Moldova also depends on annual remittances of about $1.6 billion from the roughly one million Moldovans working in Europe, Russia, and other former Soviet Bloc countries. With few natural energy resources, Moldova imports almost all of its energy supplies from Russia and Ukraine. The government’s goal of EU integration has resulted in some market-oriented progress. Moldova experienced better than expected economic growth in 2014 due to increased agriculture production, to economic policies adopted by the Moldovan government since 2009, and to the receipt of EU trade preferences.
Moldova’s growth has also been hampered by endemic corruption, which limits business growth and deters foreign investment, and Russian restrictions on imports of Moldova’s agricultural products. Over the longer term, Moldova’s economy remains vulnerable to corruption, political uncertainty, weak administrative capacity, vested bureaucratic interests, energy import dependence, Russian political and economic pressure, heavy dependence on agricultural exports, and unresolved separatism in Moldova’s Transnistria region.
Moldtelecom is the national telecommunications operator in Moldova. Created on April 1, 1993, as part of the national telecommunications restructuring, Moldtelecom was a state company. On January 5, 1999, Moldtelecom was reorganized and became a joint-stock company with the state being the unique stockholder. The company provides fixed telephony and Internet services of national coverage, controlling 97% of the market in Moldova. The services, however, are unavailable in the region of Transnistria, which declared its independence in 1992 with limited international recognition.
RELEVANT INTERNET EXCHANGE POINTS
MD-IX – Moldova Internet Exchange Point
Ion Creanga, 6v