Getting Internet Connected in Bulgaria
Bulgaria Internet – information about the internet in all of Bulgaria, usage statistics, ISP’s and Bulgarian development and intensions.
After a slow beginning, the Internet has become popular in Bulgaria. Although Internet access is rather inferior to the one in the Western European countries, it compares favorably with the average standards for the region, according to a survey conducted by Vitosha Research.
Although the current low penetration level of the Internet in Bulgaria, the number of Internet Services Providers (ISP) have trebled in recent years. With no special regulations or procedures to get their licenses, many companies have entered this highly competitive market. However, non -governmental organizations are mainly responsible for most of the growth of this field in Bulgaria at present.
As part of the process of modernization of the country, the Bulgarian government has taken a series of measures both for the welfare of nationals and residents and to reach the high standards set by the European Union in order to allow Bulgaria to become a new member from January 2007.
One of those proactive measures was the creation of an organization in charge of taking Bulgaria to the level of the rest of European countries regarding technologies of information and the Internet. To reach this aim, the Internet Society Bulgaria (ISOC) was created on December 4, 1995, in Sofia by a group of professionals. Some organization members are Information Technologies (IT) professionals, and others, members of government, like Sergey Stanishev, the Bulgarian Prime Minister who has been a member of ISOC since April of 2001.
The ISOC, a nongovernmental organization, is currently involved in a number of projects related to promotion and usage of free and source software and has been actively involved in the Global Internet Policy Initiative (GIPI) and also contributed to the formation of governmental IT-policy in a number of countries, besides Bulgaria.
They are also in charge of making statistics regarding Internet use and other related activities, and this is their report for 2005:
- Internet users between the ages of fifteen and sixty-nine = 29%
- Usage From Homes with Internet Connections = 15%
- Usage From Internet Clubs = 15%
- Usage From Other Locations = 9%
- Women = 28%
- Men = 30%
People usually visit sites, devoted to:
- Business = 29%
- Email = 45%
- Games = 16%
- Groups/Discussion Boards = 16%
- Internet Searches = 12%
- Job Hunting = 10%
- Medical Information = 10%
- Motoring = 18%
- Music/MP3 = 39%
- News = 27%
- Online Services (Free) = 16%
- Other = 13%
- Sports = 16%
- Weather = 11%
The ISOC has gained a good reputation in Europe and America. This fact was essential for the United Nations Development Program known as UNDP to form a new project dedicating to reducing poverty and improving the workforce within Bulgaria. The ISOC is in charge of implementing this project, which was co-sponsored by the International Internet Society.
The organization has also undertaken a project known as called Internet Governance, consisting of a new Internet site aimed at becoming a portal for all resources dedicated to the issues around the discussed topic of who and how to govern the Internet resources. This is quoted from an Internet Governance statement.
So many years under the Communist totalitarian regime left a deep mark in Bulgarian spirit, and several governmental and non-governmental institutions have flourished in recent years taking care of human rights in Bulgaria in many fields. Internet was not to be the exception.
Social Rights Bulgaria is an institution that accounts for the importance of the Internet for civil society. According to its own statements, the Internet is a unique public sphere in providing an environment where people can learn and discuss the decisions that shape our lives, assuring participatory democracy. This society states that for the Internet to achieve that goal it is necessary that some rights related to it become worldwide accepted, such as the right to free speech and debate on matters of public interest, the right to access the Internet, and the right to protection of privacy. The SRB is currently working on the recognition of those rights by the Council of Europe and the European Union. In the SRB’s view, the poor will be those who do not have the right information or access to it in cyberspace, and that is why the institution suggests updating the “European Convention on Human Rights to cover developments in technology and society.”
As an additional measure to help expand the access and use of the Internet in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Minister of Culture, Stefan Danalov, had an interview with Brendon Hudson, vice president and cooperating director anti-pirate of the Motion Picture Association in Brussels. They discussed the law frame regulating the presentations of audiovisual works by means of the Internet, Europe’s own experience in this matter, and the prospect development of the Internet space in Bulgaria.
The use of the Internet has entered the educational system as well. To support this, it is worthy of mention, an initiative by the Internet society Bulgaria to train children from the orphanages in the municipality of Vratza to work with OpenOffice, Mozilla Firefox, and GIMP.
With the aim to prepare children for the requirements of the labour market after their graduation, the 3-day program focused on the fundamental and useful experience, needed to cover basic office requirements, so they were taught OpenOffice.org Writer, Calc and Impress and Mozilla Firefox browser. All those software packages are alternatives to the larger named software programs similar to Microsoft Office or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Reports state that children quickly adapted to the programs, despite their lack of skill, and soon were using the software like pros, even given the language differences.
Being updated with the world achievements in IT is a big aim for Bulgaria, but no doubt the country will achieve the goal of technological improvement with the help of both government and nongovernmental institutions that struggle to see the Bulgarian government fulfill their ideas on developing IT as a leading industry in Bulgaria.