According to Akamai’s Q4 2015 rankings, Romania has an average connection speed of 13.1 Mbps and an average peak connection speed of 72.9 Mbps.
According to statistics published by the World Bank Group, out of the 20 million people currently living in Romania, nearly 9.96 million are connected to the Internet, or 49.8% of the population, which is among the lowest penetration rates in the world.
In contrast with the low penetration rate, the local Internet infrastructure is regarded as one of the most technologically-advanced in the world. In this regard, the same Akamai report puts Romania on the 10th place in the world, just a little behind Qatar and Taiwan.
This has been possible due to the fact that the Internet market belongs to the private sector, and that is highly divided between a handful of ISPs. The most important companies on the market are RDS&RCS, UPC, Telekom and NextGen. Currently, RDS&RCS is the market leader.
Internet access in Romania can be primarily divided into dial-up, then broadband connections, such as coaxial, optical fiber, FTTB, FTTH and XDSL. Broadband access has been available locally since 2000, through coaxial cable, first provided by Kappa (now owned by UPC). Nowadays, coaxial and fiber optic access are provided by RDS&RCS and UPC. For households, speeds range anywhere from as low as 2 Mbps to a whopping 1000 Mbps, with unlimited data and no fair usage policies. (RDS&RCS is currently the only company which provides this speed, but only in major cities, such as Bucharest, due to lack of adequate infrastructure).
One interesting aspect of broadband access in Romania is that it is usually provided by what is referred to as micro-ISPs. Locally, these are known as “neighborhood networks”. These ISPs usually have anywhere between 50 to 3000 customers each, and provide their services through 100BASE-T UTP LANs. After communism fell in Romania, the need for Internet access was at an all-time high. These neighborhood companies emerged at the end of the 90’s in order to meet the demand by providing broadband access at a lower cost than what traditional providers offered. At the time, the only other possible access was dial-up, which had slow speeds, bad reliability and very high costs, and everyone tried to avoid it. Micro-ISPs started off with a handful of customers for them to have today customers in the order of a few thousand, if not more.
According to latest data published by Numbeo, a typical Internet subscription costs roughly $15 per month in local currency (RON). However, it should be noted that customers are usually required to subscribe to a TV and/or telephone service to complement the Internet subscription (especially for cable access, but not only).
Below you can find the most important characteristics of the Internet in Romania:
1. Industry belongs to the private sector
The market leaders, namely RDS&RCS, UPC and Telekom, compete with the aforementioned “neighborhood networks”. Attempts to buy them out have been made, and while some accepted, the most important networks still exist to this day and successfully compete with the market leaders.
2. Great infrastructure
The Internet in Romania is very possibly the fastest in Europe and among the fastest in the entire world. It might be befuddling to many as to how this country, probably the poorest country in Europe after Bulgaria, benefits from download speeds of about 60 Mbps as opposed to the United States, the only world’s superpower, which lags behind with only 32.8 Mbps, according to stats published by NetIndex. However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise due to two main reasons. First of all, Romania’s landmass is about the size of Oregon, and it is definitely easier to implement highly-advanced infrastructure here than it is in the United States, pricewise. Secondly, the abovementioned neighborhood networks contributed and still contribute to the advancement of the infrastructure, with millions of euros being invested annually by companies cumulatively, while the United States does not currently see as many investments and won’t likely see in the foreseeable future.
3. Lenient censorship laws
Romanian law provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. There are little to no governmental restrictions on access to the Internet and reports that Internet activities are monitored. The only exception would be a recent law enforced by ONJN (The National Office for Gambling), that prohibits access from unlicensed betting companies that had been operating in Romania for a long time and weren’t paying tax. In spite of this limitation, internet users use proxies or VPNs as a workaround in order to access and use these websites as normal.
The web hosting industry in Romania is prosperous, but only on a local scale. Generally, Romanian hosting providers are not known internationally, and provide services that cater to a local clientele exclusively. Major names include Hostx.ro, Xservers.ro, Romarg.ro, Host-age.ro, along with many others. By analyzing these companies, we have determined that all core services such as Shared, VPS or Dedicated Hosting are offered at affordable prices, typically not exceeding the equivalent of $3, $15 and $50 per month in local currency (RON), and comprising many plentiful resources. Furthermore, all plans can be complemented with a wide array of extra features, such as SSL certificates, website builders, and antispam tools, that come at affordable prices, too. Only a few companies provide uptime and/or money back guarantees. Support for international languages such as English is very limited, if not inexistent altogether.