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The curious case of Romanian broadband (medium.com/cgo-benchmark)
103 points by ajmarcic 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments

What the article does not mention is that most of those networks are now gone. They started around 2000 as ad-hoc networks (a few friends that shared files through SMB and maybe an Internet connection) but around 2002 they evolved to be real businesses, with networks spanning tens of buildings and hundreds of apartments, sharing an expensive business link and even starting to do peering across networks. Most used copper cables across buildings, so they were quite often hit by lightning and network switches and cables had to be replaced (fiber was hard to install and maintain, as in some cases the physical security of the network equipment was low and media converters could be stolen).

Starting with 2005 the bigger/"normal" ISPs started to buy these networks (the businesses that maintained them), and migrate the customers to a more standardized / legal (and more expensive) network link.

Also, in the last years an underground fiber backbone was installed in Bucharest, and the fiber above ground started to migrate (not really willingly) to that. The problem is that there is no incentive to uninstall unused fiber from the poles (it's not valuable as a second-hand object and hard to recycle) so that fiber just stays there, in many cases broken.

Same thing happens in Bulgaria.

First they start with Ethernet to the buildings and one switch for each entrance to all occupants. And they was times when most of infrastructure was above the ground on poles. That was 20 years ago.

But like 10+ years ago they start making fiber to the buildings (FTTB) and now they're migrating to fiber to the home (FTTH).

For now most of infrastructure is underground.

The final digs about Verizon Fios in Hell's Kitchen are pretty fucking rich, if you ask me.

There's no need for "telephone poles." That is complete nonsense, not least because Verizon has the monopoly on underground conduit in Manhattan. They literally own the Empire City Subway, the ostensibly vendor-neutral central conduit system that runs under every single street in Hell's Kitchen.

For some "mysterious" reason, no one other than Verizon can ever get conduit space in the ECS. Gee I wonder why that is. At the same time, Verizon has no interest in using that space for fiber -- they'd rather leave hundred year old dead copper lines sit than admit competitors OR upgrade their own infrastructure

Fios isn't failing to deploy to his building because it's hard to negotiate with landlords -- they are failing to deploy because they do not believe the city will enforce the terms of their franchise. It's more profitable to wire a few high-density buildings, and leave everyone else to rot, assuming the city never fines them. (That looks like a safe assumption from where I am sitting.)

Verizon has ample capability and they choose not to live up to their obligations.

There is a lawsuit from the City of New York against Verizon, but I suspect the fight is long and hard for this one. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/04/nyc-b...

As a Romanian person I am baffled hearing the speed and data cap woes of American people. I always saw America as superior and something to aspire to as a kid. What your ISPs are doing is pure robbery and I am surprised there's not more backlash about this.

I was in Bucharest a couple of years ago and used wired broadband in an apartment. It was good - not terribly faster than what I get here, or at least ... not faster such that I'd notice. I suspect the price was cheaper, although unsure what the 'big mac price' might be for people who live there day to day.

I have a 200 down / 20 up connection at my office for $80/month - roughly the same at home for ~$50/month. At home, we don't normally get that unless actually wired in, as the wifi stuff around the house is bad (boosters don't help much). At the office, even over wifi, it can often be over the 200 - the wifi is probably a bottleneck there.

The town where the office is is offering 'gigabit to the home', but only in new construction homes. The downtown spot I'm in won't get upgrades for a while, from what I'm hearing.

I'm in the suburbs of a moderately large tech area, and almost rural by some measures. That said, I know some friends a bit further out aren't served very well at all, and are struggling with satellite connections as their last hope for 'fast' internet (6-10m from what I remember).

> I am surprised there's not more backlash about this.

FWIW, we (USA) get hosed around on so many things (healthcare, net, etc) and are also fed a patriotic diet of "America is the best" growing up. Because we're so large and isolated, many folks never travel, and a couple generations ago, most didn't have access to international publications/media like we do today. All that combines to give many of my fellow citizens a somewhat distorted view of our own standing and quality of life. There's little reason to 'backlash' when you think you're already "the best".

About pricing in .ro: I have a business link with 1000 down / 200 up and static public IP for $25. A similar speed home link is $9. Adjusted for big mac index (2.5x) they would be around $60 / $22.

Thanks for the BMI number. I didn't pay too much attention to pricing of things when I was there (bit of a working holiday), but those numbers help put things in perspective. I've seen some areas in the US with similar speeds like that for business cases be ~$100/month - still more than your .ro pricing, but I think most places that can get those speeds will still have somewhat higher pricing.

Home - most folks I know don't have those sorts of home speeds, nor have access to those speeds in their areas. Often people bundle internet/tv/phones/etc, so they may get a 'better' price thinking about individual components, but... $9 is pretty darn good. My home prices have gone down a bit over the years as speeds have gone up a bit, but I'm still tied to whatever's offered in this geography.

I have gigabit up and down in my house in Michigan for $49/month. Fiber, a new ISP. We got lucky in my town because the city owns the phone poles and is very open to leasing space.

nice! "a2" - Ann Arbor, by any chance? I used to live in Ypsi, but those were the days of dual-channel ISDN being 'hot stuff'. :)

Actually, we ARE in Ypsilanti. Ann Arbor has worse options then us--they don't own their poles and they're a bigger city. We're small enough and have the poles to make us a better target for small time rollouts. I'm loving the fiber life style though.

> I was in Bucharest a couple of years ago and used wired broadband in an apartment. It was good - not terribly faster than what I get here, or at least.

Often in apartment rentals in Romania, the link to the apartment is a fast fiber one, but 1) the installers didn’t properly connect all eight pins to the ethernet cable, and/or 2) the apartment’s owner has installed a slow router. Gigabit routers have until recently been a specialist item in Romania that had to be special-ordered, and the owners of rented apartments and cafes just bought a cheap slow router at the local hypermarket. So, the internet that customers enjoyed was always slower than the physical connection could have provided.

The 2.4GHz band is saturated (in an apartment building you'll see tens of networks, there's no free channel even if you want to optimize. And there are not many 5GHz-capable devices or they have the 5GHz band disabled (not sure why - I found this also whilst renting/airbnb in other countries, the wifi was bad but the old "admin/admin" login worked on the router, so we could switch it to 5GHz).

And yes, the install teams are outsourced and the quality varies wildly.

I think that exceptionalism rote taught explains a lot of America's inherent conservatism - why change if you're already the best?

We’re conservative because we’re rich and comfortable. We have the highest disposable income in the OECD: https://cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/teaser/14773.jpeg. The median household income of a married couple with kids is $95,000. And the taxes are extremely low in that bracket. Our unemployment rate in the midst of Trump’s botched handling of COVID is less than what France’s unemployment rate is in a normal year.

Even when you hear complaints about things like healthcare, the debates are more about universal coverage than the quality or affordability of care itself. Americans are overwhelmingly satisfied with their own healthcare: https://news.gallup.com/poll/245195/americans-rate-healthcar.... (And, Americans being preternaturally optimistic, just assign less value to the security of a safety net in the case they lose their job, etc.)

Americans live in houses far larger than the average European: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/7ei5f4/com.... We have more TVs, more cars, etc.

It’s easy to assume that Americans are just ignorant and irrational. But Americans know that Europe has a bunch of services we don’t, and they pay much higher taxes in return. Democrats make that comparison all the time. People are aware of it. But the fact is that the current system works pretty well for your typical voter. A flatter society with more social services would be better for a lot of people. However, your average suburban married couple would take a significant hit to their standard of living if they lived in France instead.

> We’re conservative because we’re rich and comfortable.

Some of you are.

You're only surpassed by Romania, Costa Rica, and South Africa in this chart: https://data.oecd.org/inequality/poverty-rate.htm

Romania, Italy, South Africa in this one: https://data.oecd.org/inequality/poverty-gap.htm#indicator-c...

Doing better in this one, in that now you're behind Bulgaria, Turkey, Chile, Costa Rica and South Africa. https://data.oecd.org/inequality/income-inequality.htm#indic...

I'm assuming that disposable household income per capita doesn't quite capture the severely unequal distributions of disposable household income.

> Americans live in houses far larger than the average European: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/7ei5f4/com.... We have more TVs, more cars, etc.

That's a cultural difference, not at all indicative of anything - European cities are typically built for denser living - far fewer McMansions, far more well built, sound proofed apartments with ample public transport networks, to the extent that one can work and live in a city without owning a car. Although there are a bunch of bicycles.

In fact, very few of my German colleagues own cars because they have no reason to, as they all live in major cities. If they need a car for a holiday, they rent one.

> Americans are overwhelmingly satisfied with their own healthcare

Which is exactly the point I was making, I mean, the country with one of the lowest passport holding rates doesn't really have much to compare their health system to.

The OECD poverty line is defined as a half of median income, so it is problematic to compare that between countries with much differenent income levels. People on poverty line in rich countries still have higher income (even after PPP adjustment) than median-income people in poor countries.

Yeah, by plain math, making the working class richer will make your poverty rankings worse.

I’m not really disagreeing with what you’re saying. My point is that people are voting in their own interest. If you’re employed, 30+, married married, and in the top 60% of the income distribution, then in terms of quantifiable income and consumption metrics you’re probably better off than you’d be in say France. And these are the people who vote.

As to housing patterns, I’m sure it’s a combination of preference, availability, and affordability. I know Germans from suburbs in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg and they drive everywhere and enjoy the convenience. These are the same preferences of folks in the US.

As to health care: for people who have decent insurance, you’d be surprised by how nice American healthcare is. When my son had chronic ear infections, in sometimes went down to the pediatricians office multiple times a day. It’s not free at the point of use, but it’s cheap enough where it might as well be. It’s not obviously something that needs fixing.

Again, it’s not like the American left hasn’t been making the pitch for socialized medicine for decades now. At this point Americans probably have an overly rosy picture of European healthcare. They don’t know that French national healthcare has 20% coinsurance, or that many European countries still have insurance companies. It’s just that most voters either have insurance from their employer, and it actually tends to be pretty good, or they have Medicare, which also tends to be pretty good. The fact that some people don’t have that doesn’t motivate the average voter very much, and they don’t want to pay more taxes. Americans don’t have the same sense of solidarity Europeans have, and are much more individualistic.

> My point is that people are voting in their own interest.

Even if that would be true, The elephant in the room here is the abysmal participating rate of US elections and general voter suppression. There's no way the Republican party would ever win a fair, easy-to-vote, EU-style, election.

> Americans don’t have the same sense of solidarity Europeans have, and are much more individualistic.

But universal healthcare has been popular in polls throughout the population for a long time, even though I assume that in a class based society like the US it must feel regressive, as upper middle-class and up, to be threatened by having to wait in the same queue as the poor for healthcare.

> Even if that would be true, The elephant in the room here is the abysmal participating rate of US elections and general voter suppression.

Voter “suppression” insofar as it exists works at the margins: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/19/suppression-issues-....

> Voter suppression issues rank low among reasons nonvoters stay home

I’ve never voted in a Presidential election, and I’m not going to vote in this one. I can walk to my nearest polling place. It just won’t change the outcome in my state and I really don’t care that much.

> There's no way the Republican party would ever win a fair, easy-to-vote, EU-style, election.

What is an “easy-to-vote, EU-style election?” The voting system in Georgia isn’t that different from say France. There is automatic registration when you get a driver’s license (which nearly everyone has). France doesn’t even have mail in voting: https://www.lemonde.fr/archives/article/1975/11/13/pour-redu...

> But universal healthcare has been popular in polls throughout the population for a long time, even though I assume that in a class based society like the US it must feel regressive, as upper middle-class and up, to be threatened by having to wait in the same queue as the poor for healthcare.

It’s popular conceptually until it comes time to make actual trade-offs. Biden won the Democratic nomination because his competitors’ single-payer proposals eliminated private insurance, something most people didn’t like. After Obama passed the ACA along party lines, voters handed Democrats a huge loss in the midterms, giving Republicans control of Congress for the rest of Obama’s term.

> Voter “suppression” insofar as it exists works at the margins

So gerrymandering, 55% voter turnout, long queues, voting on a working day, having felons not being eligible, the electoral college system etc. isn't indicative of voter suppression?

> I’ve never voted in a Presidential election,

What's the point of your personal anecdote?

> What is an “easy-to-vote, EU-style election?”

That's a single state? Why did Trump say that the Republican party would never be elected again? [0] It's not exactly a secret. France had 77% voter turnout.

> It’s popular conceptually until it comes time to make actual trade-offs

What trade-offs? Skipping a foreign war?

> Biden won the Democratic nomination because his competitors’ single-payer proposals eliminated private insurance

You're always writing in authoritatively simplistic causal language. "X caused Y", when there's no such obviously direct relationship.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/30/trump-republ...

Your “cultural difference” point is a good one.

More cars and more house and things many want, and I find it baffling. My measure is that I want to vacuum the house from one power point, and not worry what happens to the car.


Fyi, an interesting statistic is that Eg. Houses in Belgium are more expensive to buy and way cheaper to rent.

> European cities are typically built for denser living - far fewer McMansions, far more well built, sound proofed apartment

Well, here (Prague) you can have small flat in city for the same price as full-sized house with garden in suburbs (villages around Prague), so it is mostly question of preferences.

Do all of these cars and TVs make you happy? Rhetorical question; if they did you wouldn't need more more more.

A minority is rich and comfortable. This elite uses propaganda rhetoric such as polarisation by a platform such as Fox News to manipulate people into a political candidate which, ultimately, does not serve in their benefit but in the benefit of the elite majority.

Then there's the other party who are only marginally better. The poor get to pick the best option of two terrible options, and they could have achieved so much more in their life with just a minor bit of compassion from said elite. If greed is one of the seven sins, none of these elites are the devout Christians they claim to be.

I normally don't speak out about this; thanks for the inspirational post.

Again, it’s easy to tell yourself that Americans are just irrational, harder to reconcile that with the facts. It’s not just a minority that’s richer and more comfortable: https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2017/04/24/middle-class-f...

A middle income household in the US has $15,000-25,000 more per year in disposable income than a middle income household in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, or the UK (comprising 70% of the EU population).

You can say that some of that goes to employee-paid premiums and things like that, which are excluded from the OECD analysis. But for households with employer-paid health insurance (which is the vast majority of middle income households), the typical out of pocket costs for those things is a fraction of the income differential: https://www.commonwealthfund.org/sites/default/files/2019-05...

The median spending on premiums and out of pocket costs in the US is $3,700. And note that European countries also have out of pocket expenses of $500-1,000: https://www.oecd.org/health/health-systems/OECD-Focus-on-Out....

So at the end of the day, a middle income American household with employer-paid health insurance has $12,000-22,000 more in their pocket each year. (You could adjust for other social services, but those tend to be a drop in the bucket by comparison. For example, the average student, of the minority of Americans that graduates college, is $30,000. Thats a one-time debt, compared to a lifetime of earning thousands of dollars more.)

Fox News manipulating people into “voting against their interests” is mostly a myth. The poorest people do in fact vote Democrat. If you look at profiles of Trump voters, they tend to be non-college-educated people who are doing well in places with low cost of living. In my county, the guys that own a little contracting or construction company vote for Trump. This is entirely in their interest. They would not be personally better off paying a lot more taxes to get marginally more benefits. I spent several weeks in East Texas last year. This is Trump country. It’s also quite prosperous. The men work in the oil industry and the women work in healthcare. They have big trucks and big houses and shiny new stores and restaurants.

Irrational is a stretch from being manipulated by propaganda. Definitely not my choice of word.

I only checked your first link, and after processing that I called it. The data is from ~1991 and 2010. The link says Western Europe. I consider the Scandinavian countries Northern Europe, and the Mediterranean Southern Europe. Southern Europe and Eastern Europe (all ex Iron Curtain) are poorer than Northern Europe, Ireland, United Kingdom, Belgium (left out -- why), Austria (idem), Switzerland (idem), Sweden (idem), Finland (idem) (though last two are also Northern Europe and Scandinavia).

Then I scrolled to the bottom and saw this linked [1]. The title being: In Western European countries studied, up to eight-in-ten adults live in middle-income households; U.S. has among the highest lower- and upper-income shares and guess what the USA's middle class is 75% the size of the mentioned non-Southern European countries.

Now, I happen to know also that apart from Southern Europe all of the mentioned countries have adequate healthcare while in the USA (before Obamacare, which the two statistic metrics are about) that isn't the case.

My conclusion is indeed that the middle class in the USA is marginalized. Though not yet as severe as in a fascist country it might be heading that way.

I would like to comment on one more thing:

> This is entirely in their interest.

No, it is not, only in their short term myopic vision. A long-term interest is that you invest in your fellow civilians. It is also selfish, because you expect something in return. But it is what I call intelligent selfishness as its long-term. Much like VC, the USA is focussed on short-term gains.

Now, surely the American people must live a happy and free life, right? Not quite. If we look at the above statistics and the data from Democracy Index, Reporters Without Borders about the freedom in all of the countries we are discussing then the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Tge Netherlands, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Ireland (ie. entire Western Europe) are far ahead in terms of freedom than the self-proclaimed Land Of The Free.

[1] https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2017/04/24/middle-class-f...

PS: As for your Fox News rebuttal see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24819418

2 cars and 3 TVs seem to be enough. Who said more more more?

Yeah, but what everybody is pointing out is that your poor are faring worse than poor people in other developed country. And the paradox of that thing is that's happening despite you being:

> rich and comfortable

That's what baffles everyone. The American social contract seems to be "if 80% of the population can be 20-30% richer than the rest of the world, let's throw the 20% at the bottom under the rhetorical bus".

And I should point out that these days those 20% at the bottom are about 70 million (!) people. Plus I imagine that the poverty rate will only go up, not down, considering how US politics are looking.

Too bad that poll on healthcare didn't break it down by whether or not you pay for it yourself.

I was quite pleased with my costs when I got it through my employer and so didn't actually see the cost of insurance. I'd indirectly see it when every few years my employer would change providers, and then I'd have to worry about whether or not my doctor was in the new provider's network.

Co-workers who wanted to add spouses to their plan did have to pay for it themselves on some of the plans, and they grumbled about the cost.

Now that I buy insurance myself on my state's health insurance exchange, cost is one of my top complaints.

> It was good - not terribly faster than what I get here, or at least ... not faster such that I'd notice

That's more about proximity than about bandwidth. Whenever I'm SF, I'm surprised at how quickly everything loads, mainly because the datacenter is next to me rather than on the other side of the world.

It seems to be in the DNA of the "system". See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railroad_Wars

Its not just ISPs. It’s part of a larger problem with building infrastructure due to our regulatory environment and high labor costs. In my state, they’re building a tram line through the suburbs that is costing as much per mile as Copenhagen’s new fully automated circle line subway. That’s a public project, but costs are still insanely high.

I'm a romanian too and happen to agree with you. Our own publicly traded company DiGi has around a 2% dividend yield while At&t has a 7% dividend yield, a bad product and a high price.

America has a lot of legacy.

A lot of stuff was built out post-WW2 when everything was still green fields. Now, several decades later, all of this infrastructure still (mostly) "works" so everyone is not enthusiastic about spending money to make it 'better'.

I'm guessing that during those same decades many/most Communist countries did not have awesome infrastructure, and so when they became more open, there was a lot of catching up to do. So in many ways you are in a country that is (relatively speaking) like the US was during the 1950s and 1960s. In some ways you 'skipped' a generation and so leap-frogged America a bit.

Also, it seems that Romania has a population bulge of people our 40 years of age:

* https://www.indexmundi.com/romania/age_structure.html

When those people hit their 60s, like the Baby Boomers in the US now are, then you may find economic growth to be more of a struggle (see Japan).

* https://www.indexmundi.com/united_states/age_structure.html

* https://www.indexmundi.com/japan/age_structure.html

Romania should take advantage of the move to remote work to attract businesses and workers.

This was pretty much the case across Eastern Europe.

In Kiev, I ordered an internet connection and to my surprise I was told that it was all done and ready to go without any visits to my apartment. I was surprised.

The wall outlet was an Ethernet port. No TV cable. No phone line. Direct RJ45.

Later I learned that everything is in the central wiring closet somewhere in the building. And many buildings are just connected roof to roof with cables.

I had 100/100 mbit connection, with unlimited data, for $15 USD/mo. Don’t remember having any issues. That was 5 years ago.

Back in the early days buildings often had their own LAN for sharing warez and gaming. Sometimes adjacent buildings were connected for extended network.

>I had 100/100 mbit connection, with unlimited data, for $15 USD/mo. Don’t remember having any issues. That was 5 years ago.

A year ago the price for a 100/100 connection in Kiev (Kyiv) was $8/mo. TV (over IP) with 40+ channels included. New condo. RJ45 right in the wall.

> The wall outlet was an Ethernet port.

Huh, never thought of this as weird. I remember using a dial-up modem in the early 2000s in Romania, but since then I've just had a normal Ethernet port coming out of the wall everywhere, including Western Europe.

In North America you get either a TV Cable (coaxial) outlet, which then needs a cable modem (DOCSIS).

Or you get a phone outlet, for which you need a DSL modem.

For both cases, back in the day, you still needed a router. Nowadays it’s usually a modem-router combo, and usually they are terrible.

Everyone always has a rats nest of wires somewhere behind a TV or couch. :D

This is the case even in eastern europe. Especially in older cities there was big rush to connect people with TV Cable in 90s and that gets reused for internet.

I suspect connections built in recent years are ethernet and if you want TV they do in through that other way atound.

Same in other Western countries like The Netherlands and Germany. The cable network is from the time cable TV was rolled out (70s/80s). The phone network is older, and also more unreliable. VDSL and DOCSIS are mostly FttC though.

I believe EU demands people to be allowed to freely pick their own router. Whatever brand it is and whoever owns it you can put it near your demarcation point (in Dutch called ISRA for phone, AOP for cable, and FTU (English acronym) for fiber). This is usually in the same vicinity where gas/water/electricity enters house. From there you can wire your house with ethernet. Maybe add in a WLAN repeater here and there, proper cable management, and you're done.

> I believe EU demands people to be allowed to freely pick their own router. Whatever brand it is and whoever owns it you can put it near your demarcation point

Do you have a reference for that? I have FTTH in France from SFR and I suspect there's some funny business going on where you have to jump through hoops in order to replace the provided router. Not only won't they provide a DHCP lease if you don't ask with the right options, but lately the dhcp server seems to actually stop providing anything at all once it saw an un recognized request. Support has to intervene to make it work again and the issue doesn't seem common because it usually takes them a week to find out what's up. They would even try replacing the router at your house...

Edit: found the EU regulation : https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELE...

Indeed, it states that the providers should not impose restrictions on the use of terminal equipments, and that users should be free to chose them. (§5 on the second page).

Thanks for the link.

It is a directive which EU members must implement. The Netherlands is going to implement it in 2021. [1] I am unsure about the deadline for implementation.

You can try something like putting your router in bridge mode. For example Ziggo here allows that. KPN already allows free choice of "modem" (read: router). And a Fritz!box can be used as bridge if you use PPPoE client elsewhere. There's even PCI(e) DSL modems. A recent example [2].

[1] https://www.acm.nl/nl/publicaties/acm-consumenten-mogen-eige...

[2] https://www.draytek.co.uk/products/business/vigornic-132

I've dug a bit more into this, and apparently the law is not yet in effect in France either, but still being discussed. The curious can track the progress at [0].

Regarding bridge mode, I'm only aware of one ISP in France whose box allows doing that (Free). In my case there's no such option, it can only work as a router.

[0] https://www.senat.fr/dossier-legislatif/ppl19-048.html

In Toronto most new condos come with Ethernet ports in walls. Fiber to apartment is not exotic either. The board of the condo I lived in managed to get from Bell a CAD 25/mo (USD 19/mo) offer for 100Mbs internet for all tenants. Usually it's CAD 80/mo (USD 60/mo).

In every modern apartment building I've lived in, there is only an ethernet port in the wall.

New build apartments definitely have both coax or ethernet. Most housing stock just isn't that new in the US.

I live in an apartment block built in 2008 (Czechia) and we have ADSL/VDSL only.

Given that my work has 1Gb connection, I just download the really big things at work.

It's awesome what happens in the absence of laws written by ISP lobbyists & passed by their purchased legislators.

The good an cheap internet is one reason that makes romanians proud. You can get 940 Mbps down, 450 Mbps up for about $9/month (included in the price is also 50 GB cloud storage in their Google Drive type of service) [0]

For internet on your smartphone you have an option of ~ 2$/month for 50 GB, 4G speeds [1] You can check the coverage here [2]

[0] https://www.digiromania.ro/servicii/internet/internet-fix/fi...

[1] https://www.digiromania.ro/servicii/telefonie-mobila/optim/d...

[2] https://aisemnal.ro/home

A similarly curious case is Moldova, Romania's neighbour.

I grew up there, I remember dial up and wasting a lot of my mother's money on it. Then the state run ISP rolled out ADSL and it got way better. In the span of 2-3 years, I went from 64/64 kbit/s to 6/1 Mbps.

In another year, it was 24/1 Mbps, and yet another year or so they started rolling out fiber, with free upgrades for everyone as long as you renewed the contract. 30/30 Mbps, then 100/100 Mbps, now you can get 1000/1000 for $20 or 300/300 Mbps for $10. Upgrading to a higher speed is still free afaik, but your contract gets renewed for 3 years.

Interestingly, it used to be possible to get multiple connections at the same house (like, literally, multiple fiber cables). Not sure if that's still possible and what the limit was per individual/house, but I always wondered if one could get something ridiculous like 4000/4000 Mbps aggregate speed.

And yes, the upload speeds are true, although their own routers won't reach them.

But good news, you can use any router with an SFP transceiver.

I am not aware of anything like the private networks created in Romania by individuals. There are a few other ISPs that started early, and technically competed with Moldtelecom (the state run ISP) with their own cables, but they did not operate outside the capital for a very long time. Moldtelecom had a monopoly.

There used to be a lot of Internet cafes that everyone would use for LAN gaming and Internet browsing, it was fun.

This might be the best thing the government has done in the country since independence, I don't know what motivations they had, they didn't seem to be lobbied by anyone since there were no Internet startups with significant influence. They just sort of... did it.

If anyone knows more about the history of Internet in the Republic of Moldova, please comment.

Now there's talks of selling Moldtelecom to Huawei, which might be a bad idea. They already use Huawei equipment, just not sure what they would do if they buy the whole company.

There's also no limit on speeds inside Moldova (or hasn't been for a long time), so you could basically treat all of Moldova as a giant LAN party (as more and more communities got access to broadband). I remember my Windows box couldn't even cope with the download speeds and would freeze for some large downloads.

Basically the same situation here in Greece. I remember the first time I got (256k) DSL. It was magical that I could be online and still make phonecalls from the landline!

Sigh... I wish it were like that in my country (.de). Your ISPs seem to have done the right thing, letting go of the useless asymmetric download/upload-rate as soon as the technology allowed. Here they still do that asymmetric nonsense on fibre(with the exception of a few regional ISPs), if there is fibre available at all. Milk the cow until it's empty, I guess.


I'm still amazed that they did it this way... They could've easily gone the asymmetric way, no static IPs, no custom routers, higher prices, etc.

Looking at their offers now, you even get unlimited 4G with the gigabit fiber package for an extra $5.

People in the countryside now use unlimited 3G/4G exclusively, so fiber rollout is slower, but afaik still ongoing.

Not really sure what to make of it. Maybe they want to attract and retain people working online/remote. But that clearly isn't working, citizens leave the country at the first opportunity. Digital nomads are certainly welcome, though.

The average user doesn't care one bit, they just want to browse Facebook/VK/OK/Youtube.

Still, have to admit, it's a pretty great thing they're doing.

There are 2 key things you can do to reduce regulatory burden:

* Have a time limit for responding to licensing requests. Eg. 14 days. If the government can't accept or reject a request in that time period, it is auto accepted. If it is rejected, a resubmitted request must be accepted if it addresses the rejection reason.

* Allow a business to operate for 30 days before, during, and after submitting a license request, and with no penalty if 'in good faith' they believed it was reasonably likely their request would be accepted.

Here's a related documentary about Havana's pirate LAN networks by Clothmap


In Budapest our company has 1000/1000 link for ~$500, and it's fckn awesome ;)

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