Internet in Moldova

Internet in Moldova

The Internet in Moldova is developing very fast; according to statistics the overall number of Internet users in the country increased by a factor of 30 in the last 10 years and is continuing to increase. There are around 38 registered ISPs in the country but most of them are regional only, with few offering their services throughout the country. Moldtelecom (or MTC) and StarNet are leading providers in the country sharing around 88.5% of the market.[1] The remaining 11.5% is shared by other ISPs, like Orange, SunCommunications, Arax Communications, IDC and others. Almost all large ISPs have their headquarters located in the city of Chişinău (capital), the exception is OK, whose headquarters are located in Tiraspol.
Moldtelecom is the only ISP that offers its services throughout the country on a wide scale, StarNet and SunCommunications follow, offering their services in all major cities and towns in the country. Other ISPs are limited to their city or region.
Since 2008 all major Mobile Network Operators started offering high speed 3G (HSDPA) Internet access throughout the country.

The closed joint stock company "Interdnestrсom" is a Transnistrian "national" ISP that offers its services on a wide scale throughout Transnistrian territory. It is the only known large ISP in that area. Good Internet access is only available in large cities with high speeds available only in Tiraspol and Bender.

Top Level Domain: MD


Legal and regulatory frameworks

In order to meet requirements for WTO and the EU accession, the telecommunications market has been liberalized and no exclusive rights remain. Moldtelecom—the incumbent telecom operator—decreased its tariffs, allowing other providers into the market. However, low computer penetration rates and inconsistent government policy remain major impediments to Internet growth.[2]

The state has officially committed to developing Moldova as an information society, although many of its policies undermine this objective. Moldtelecom, which is also the major national ISP, remains under state control despite large-scale criticism and four failed privatization attempts. Moldtelecom also controls Unite, one of the four mobile operators created in 2007. At present, ISPs are forced to rent access from Moldtelecom's well-developed infrastructure, a necessity which increases their costs and diminishes their competitiveness. Moldtelecom provides the nondiscriminatory Reference Interconnection Offer, the last version having been approved by the regulator after much delay in December 2007. Even though some interconnection agreements are now agreed between the incumbent and IP and data transmission operators, some new entrants have complained about insufficient access to Moldtelecom's network leading to inefficient usage of infrastructure. In April 2009, the Moldovan regulator introduced new guidelines on interconnection tariffs. The regulation addresses the issues of obligations imposed on operators, with emphasis on transparency and nondiscriminatory stances toward competitors. It remains to be seen in practice how the new guideline will be applied by Moldtelecom.[2]

The Ministry of Information Development is the main policymaker in the field of information and communications and was drafting new Policy Strategy 2009–2011. The ministry's objective is to implement the National Strategy and Program on establishing e- Moldova.[2]

The main law regulating the Internet is the 2007 Law on Electronic Communication. The law established the National Agency for Telecommunications and Information Regulation (NATIR) as the telecommunications regulator in Moldova. This law mandates the government to harmonize national legislation with European standards. The law is intended to give NATIR full autonomy over the sector and replaces the licensing regime. Internet service providers can now start operating immediately after notifying NATIR.[2]

This agency is responsible for monitoring ISPs’ compliance with the law and keeping the Public Register of Electronic Communications Network and Service Providers. The law specifically provides for the possibility of introducing anticompetitive restrictions on service providers. The agency can demand that ISPs provide additional accounting information, can make them change to cost-oriented tariffs, and can introduce other measures in order to stimulate efficient market competition; and NATIR also regulates the management of the country's highest-level Internet domain (.md). The National Security Doctrine of Moldova as of 1995 did not include the Internet. The Supreme Security Council (SSC), which oversees implementation of the president's decrees related to national security, monitors ministries’ and state agencies’ various activities to ensure national security. The Ministry of Information Development carries out government policies related to information and communications and encourages collaboration between state and private organizations. The Moldovan legislation does not provide for comprehensive regulation of information security. Rather, the National Security and Information Service is endowed with broad authority to monitor and gather information on Internet usage and data transmission related to national security issues. In July 2008, a Moldovan court ordered the seizure of the PCs of 12 young Internet users for posting critical comments online against the governing party. The suspects were accused of illegally inciting people to overthrow the constitutional order and threaten the stability and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. It is unknown how the authorities obtained the names of the people, but some suggest that an ISP provided them with the IP addresses of the users.[2]

Even though Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, Internet and cell phones are used extensively by opposition and civil society groups to organize protests and voice their opinion. After the parliamentary elections on April 5, 2009, thousands of Moldovans attempted to gather in Chişinău's main square to protest the results. The protesters set the Parliament and president's offices on fire, images of which were broadcast around the world. As the guarantees for press freedom are still weak, Moldovan state television continued to show regular TV programming rather than broadcasting events occurring in the capital. The authorities disconnected cell phone coverage in the main square. More than 10,000 Moldovans joined in on Twitter (some with GPRS technology on their mobiles) to share their opinions and spread the news of Chişinău's political protests. The authorities attempted to shut down a number of Web sites for a few days, demonstrating a resolute hand in dealing with protesters.[2]

This incident, like others that have transpired in the region (e.g., the Ukrainian Orange Revolution), reveals the growing role of the social media in Eastern Europe as a tool for organizing protests and diffusing them online. At the same time, it creates the concern that governments in the region, aware of the increasing importance of social media, might attempt to close down free speech outlets anytime they feel threatened.[2]


  • Moldtelecom is the national communications company and is the main DSL provider in the county. It is the only ISP that offers its services countrywide. Fees are different depending where the subscriber is located - subscribers located in cities and regional centers will have faster connection and pay less compared to those living in small towns and rural areas.
  • IDC (formerly OK) offers services in Transnistria, a breakaway republic within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova. Since Transnistria doesn't recognize any Moldavian company on its territory it has its own "national" ISP - Interdnestrcom (Интерднестрком) or IDC that provides Internet access via ADSL. The IDC is the dominant Internet service provider in Transnistria like Moldtelecom or StarNet in Moldova.
  • SunCommunications is the only ISP in Moldova that offers Internet connection via Cable. The service is available in the city of Chişinău and Bălţi. Triple-play option is also available.
  • StarNet is the pioneer of this technology in Moldova. It was the first ISP that began to offer Internet connection via fiber-optic cable. The service is available in Chişinău, Balti and Orhei.
  • Moldtelecom began to offer Internet connection via FTTB in May 2008. The service is available in Chişinău, Bălți, Orhei, Cahul and other 30 regional centers and towns. The company plans to cover all large cities and regional centers in the near future.
  • ARAX is the first company in Moldova to offer triple-play (broadband Internet access, fixed telephony and digital TV) via own fiber-optic city-wide network. The service is available only in the city of Chişinău.
  • IDC started offering FTTB services in 2011. The service is currently limited to Tiraspol and the town of Bender, future expansions are unknown.
  • Dial-Up is available throughout the country and is provided by Moldtelecom.[3] Interdnestrсom also provided dial-up access on Transnistrean territory but on Dec 10th 2010 the company officially discontinued support of this technology.[4]

Liberty-WiFi is one of two metropolitan WiFi networks in Moldova which offers wireless access to internet. The area they cover is the capital city of Chişinău, thus being a public municipal network. They offer free Internet access in certain hot spots of the city depending on location and the period of time the users remain connected.[5] Also the access is possible by subscription.[6] The second network is that of StarNet's. It operates in Chişinău and covers most of the city's main streets.[7]

Mobile internet
  • Orange is the largest mobile networks operator in the country. The company provides mobile Internet access via 3.5G network with download speeds up to 42 Mbit/s.[8] The coverage area includes all Regional Centers and large towns/cities as well as other countryside areas.
  • Moldcell is the second largest mobile network operator in the country. The company provides mobile Internet access at speeds up to 21.6 Mbit/s (based on 3.5G technology). The coverage area includes all regional centers and large towns.
  • Unité is a mobile network operator in Moldova. Moldtelecom is 100% shareholder of the operator. Unité provides 3.5G Internet connection with service available throughout the country, with speeds up to 14.4 Mbit/s.[9]
  • IDC is a Transnistrean telecommunications provider and a mobile provider, offers its customers mobile Internet access based on CDMA 2000 1X with speeds up to 16 Kbyte/s[10] and EV-DO with speeds up to 3.1 Mbit/s.[11]

On July 11, 2010 Orange announced that it is going to start building a LTE (Long Term Evolution) network that is supposed to be operational in 2011.[12] On May 18, 2011 Moldcell officially announced that it will start offering LTE services by the end of 2011.[13][14]

ISPs by category

Provider ADSL Cable FTTB Mobile Connection Speed (maximum)
Download Upload
Moldtelecom + - + - 100Mbit/s 100Mbit/s
StarNet + - + - 100Mbit/s 100Mbit/s
Arax - - + - 100Mbit/s 100Mbit/s
Orange - - - + < 42Mbit/s < 5.76Mbit/s
IDC (OK) + - + - 30Mbit/s 30Mbit/s
Moldcell - - - + < 21.6Mbit/s < 2Mbit/s
SunCommunications - + - - 15Mbit/s  ???
Unité - - - + < 14.4Mbit/s < 5.76Mbit/s
IDC (Mobilink) - - - + < 3.1Mbit/s < 153Kbit/s

The "maximum Download/Upload" means maximum external DL/UL speed for the most expensive package available for private (home) subscribers, not business.


General Statistic Diagrams (2008)

At the end of 2009 there were around 1,295,000 Internet users in Moldova, with the overall population of 3,567,512 (without Transnistria) this means that the penetration level is only at 36.2%, by the end of Q2 2011 there were 310,100 broadband subscribers, most of them are from Chişinău. In 2004 there were 183 Internet café's registered only in Chişinău, however in later years that number has significantly decreased as personal computers and Internet access became much cheaper. Since 2010 many providers have started offering unlimited 100Mbit plans, the average price for a 100Mbit plan is 250lei or 15€. At the moment the overall throughput of all external Internet channels owned by Moldtelecom is 40 Gbit/s.[15] The overall throughput of all external Internet channels owned by StarNet is 40 Gbit/s.[16]
In 2007 there were 38 registered ISPs in Moldova.
The table below shows the number of Internet users in Moldova (without Transnistria) from year 2000 till present. Statistics are provided by ITU and ANRCETI (National Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Information Technology of the Republic of Moldova)

Year Number of Users Number of Broadband Subscribers Population Penetration Data provided by
2000 ~52,000 no data ~3,644,070 1.4% ITU[17]
2004 ~406,000 ~2,400 ~3,607,435 11.2% ITU[18]
2005 ~550,000 ~10,400 ~3,600,436 15.2% ITU[19]
2006 ~727,000 ~21,800 ~3,589,936 20.2% ITU[20]
2007 ~750,000 ~47,200 ~3,581,110 20.9% ITU[21]
2008 ~850,000 ~115,200 ~3,572,703 23.7% ITU[22]
2009 ~1,295,000 ~186,700 ~3,567,512 36.2% ITU[23] / ANRCETI
2010 ~1,425,000 ~269,100 ~3,563,695 40% ITU[24] / ANRCETI

* Statistical data may change as new data becomes available !

Structure of Broadband Service Market, by Access Technology[25]

Year xDSL Cable FTTB/LAN Wireless
2007 Q4 77.7 % 10.4 % 11.4 % 0.6 %
2008 Q4 78.2 % 6.2 % 15.5 % 0.1 %
2009 Q4 72.4 % 4.4 % 22.8 % 0.4 %
2010 Q4 62.4 % 2.8 % 34.2 % 0.6 %
2011 Q2 60.0 % 3.5 % 36.0 % 0.5 %
Allocation of IPv4 Address Space in Moldova

As of July 2011:
The most popular browser in the country is Google Chrome with 41% of the market share, following Mozilla Firefox with 34%, Internet Explorer with 13% and Opera with 11% of the market share.[26]
The most popular operating system in the country is Microsoft Windows XP with 60% of the market share, following Microsoft Windows 7 with 35% and Microsoft Windows Vista with 3% of the market share; the remaining is shared between various distributions of Linux and Apple OSX.[27]
The most popular search engine in the country is Google with 95% of the market share, following Russian version of Yandex with 3% of the market share; the rest is shared between Microsoft Bing, Yahoo! Search and others.[28]


Internet in Moldova first appeared in 1995–96 when first the ISPs "CRI" and "Relsoft Communications" were born. In 1996 the first FTTB line between Chişinău and Bucureşti was laid. In 1998 "Moldtelecom" became a part of Moldovan Internet, offering ISP services. Another provider started offering Internet access services - Arax (company founded in 1992). In 2000 IDKNet started providing internet access via dial-up. In 2003 StarNet was born. In 2004 Moldtelecom launched MaxDSL. SunCommunications exists since 1993 but it began to offer internet services only since 2004. In 2006 StarNet started construction of FTTB ring in Chishinau. In 2007 StarNet began to offer Internet access via FTTB. In 2008 Moldtelecom began to offer internet via FTTB in Chishinau.

  • 1991 – Registration of domain
  • 1992 – "Relsoft" the first ISP in Moldova is born.
  • 1994 – Registration of domain MD.
  • 1995 – First ISPs "CRI" and "Relsoft Communications" begin to offer ONLINE internet access.
  • 1996 - First satelite link to connect universities provided by Soros Foundation.
  • 1996 - First FTTB line between Chişinău and Bucureşti is lead.
  • 1998 - DNT Association spinned off Soros Foundation to develop internet to schools and universities.
  • 1998 - Moldtelecom became a part of Moldavian Internet, offering ISP services.
  • 1998 - Commercial wing of DNT was registered under Globnet brand name.
  • 1999 - Arax started providing Internet services.
  • 2000 - IDKNet started offering Dial Up services in Transnistria.
  • 2002 - ADSL was first introdused to market by Globnet srl.
  • 2002 - The number of Internet users in Moldova reached 100,000.
  • 2003 - StarNet is born.
  • 2004 - Moldtelecom launches MaxDSL, new Internet service via ADSL, and SunCommunications begins to offer Internet services via cable.
  • 2005 - The number of Internet users in Moldova reached 500,000.
  • 2006 - StarNet the first begin construction of FTTB network in Chişinău.
  • 2007 - IDKNet launches OK, new internet service via ADSL offered in Transnistria. StarNet and Arax begins to offer internet services via FTTB (fiber-optic).
  • 2008 - Moldtelecom launches MaxFiber and ARAX launches SETI project, new internet servises via FTTB. Moldcell and Orange start offering hi-speed mobile Internet services based on 3.5G technology.
  • 2009 - The number of Internet users in Moldova reached 1,000,000.
  • 2010 - Moldtelecom's Unité launches its own 3.5G network. First LTE test by Orange in July. On December 1, StarNet became the first ISP in Moldova to introduce fully unlimited 100/100Mbit plan.
  • 2011 - On March 25 Arax introduces its own 100/100Mbit unlimited plan. On April 1 Moldtelecom introduced its own 100/100Mbit unlimited plan thus becoming the 4th ISP to do so after StarNet, NordLinks and Arax. IDC starts offering FTTB services to home subscribers.

Even though there are many ISPs that offer ADSL connection, the majority of the population is limited to dial-up only, because they are located in small towns and country where the ADSL service is not available; furthermore, dial-up prices are typically higher than the cheapest ADSL packages. There has not been much progress since 1995. Most ISPs still are localized, some like Moldtelecom, StarNet and SunCommunications offer their services outside Chişinău. Until 2007 all ISPs offered very slow connection speeds for rather high prices.

Beginning from fall (2008) Moldtelecom started expanding its newly created fibernet - MaxFiber. Starting from October 1, 2008 Moldcell (mobile networks operator) started offering 3.5G services to its clients, one of these services is high-speed mobile Internet (7.2 Mbit/s). Starting from November 1, 2008 Orange starts offering 3.5G services including 14,4 Mbit/s mobile internet. As of April 1, 2010, Unité launches its own 3.5G network and a 14.4 Mbit/s mobile internet service.

Surveillance and filtering

The National Security and Information Service is authorized to monitor the Internet and collect any information necessary to prevent infringements of the laws. Surveillance in Moldova is permitted only after obtaining a court order. There is no special legal act providing for Internet surveillance per se. Nevertheless, surveillance may effectively be carried out on the provider level or at companies. The Parliament is deliberating on legislative proposals, including changes to the Law on Operative-Investigative Activities and the Law on Telecommunications that would allow government agencies to carry out surveillance on telephone and electronic communications. The law is still under consideration, but if it is approved, it is expected that it might follow the Russian Law on Surveillance (SORM).[2]

Moldova has established two departments responsible for overseeing the activities of participants in the ICT sector. The first structure, within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is charged with prevention of interregional and informational infringements. The other body, within the Center on Prevention of Economic Crimes and Corruption, has special powers to prevent infringements in the IT and other fields.[2]

Moldova also possesses a comprehensive centralized database of information on all its citizens. This system, called registru (registry), has been heavily criticized by human rights groups for being too comprehensive and lacking oversight. Privacy rights are poorly developed in Moldova, and not yet defined in law. The information held by registru is extremely comprehensive and brings together data collected by all state agencies. Consequently, human rights groups fear that it represents unwarranted and unprecedented surveillance. The system has proven highly successful, and it is a model for governments in the CIS. It has been exported to several other countries in the region. The current Moldovan president, a former internal ministry general, supports registru—in part because it was originally developed within the Ministry of Internal Affairs.[2]

In 2007 and 2008, the OpenNet Initiative carried out testing on three first-tier ISPs in Moldova: Moldtelecom, Telemedia, and DNT SunCommunications. Results did not reveal any filtering carried out on the Internet backbone. In Internet cafés, access is limited more by surveillance than by direct filtering. Specific content is prohibited, and, if it is accessed, the user is fined. Approximately 56 percent of Internet cafés’ administrators surveyed by ONI admitted to filtering and surveillance activities in 2006. Other administrators stated that they noted that some Web sites were inaccessible, but would not confirm that they used any specific filtering system in the Internet cafés.[2]

See also


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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Moldova". OpenNet Initiative. December 19, 2010.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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External links

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