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Eastern Europe: Phone Networks Considered A Gauge Of Market Transition

  • Ron Synovitz



Prague, 14 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Economists are looking at telephone networks in former communist countries as a new way to gauge the success of transition. A newly-published study shows that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia are leading the push to update their phone systems.

Public Network Europe examines telephone systems on the basis of the so-called "network penetration rate." The size of each phone system is expressed in terms relative to a country's population. This allows comparison against 1994 data published by the International Telecommunications Union.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says there is a strong relationship between the network penetration rate and per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Economist Group argues that phone networks also reflect the transition process in general -- including policy evolution, investment generation and national economic development.

Here is a country-by-country breakdown comparing the studies on phone networks from 1994 and 1996:

Bulgaria



1994: 34 lines per 100 people

1996: 29 lines per 100 people



Bulgaria is the only country which, according to the two studies, saw a decrease in the size of its telephone network during the past two years.

The EBRD explains that Bulgaria provided services beyond the expected level in 1994 because the country had been a major supplier of telecommunications equipment to the former COMECON countries. Bulgaria had conducted significant telecom expansion under central planning. Analysts say the decrease reflects Bulgaria's acute economic crisis.

Slovenia



1994: 30 lines per 100 people

1996: 32 lines per 100 people

Croatia





1994: 27 lines per 100 people

1996: 28 lines per 100 people

Latvia



1994: 27 lines per 100 people

1996: 27 lines per 100 people

Estonia



1994: 25 lines per 100 people

1996: 29 lines per 100 people

Lithuania



1994: 25 lines per 100 people

1996: 25 lines per 100 people

Czech Republic



1994: 22 lines per 100 people

1996: 26 lines per 100 people

Slovak Republic



1994: 19 lines per 100 people

1996: 21 lines per 100 people

Belarus



1994: 18 lines per 100 people

1996: 18 lines per 100 people

Hungary



1994: 17 lines per 100 people

1996: 24 lines per 100 people

Russia



1994: 17 lines per 100 people

1996: 17 lines per 100 people

Macedonia



1994: 17 lines per 100 people

1996: 18 lines per 100 people

Armenia



1994: 16 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Ukraine



1994: 16 lines per 100 people

1996: 17 lines per 100 people

Poland



1994: 13 lines per 100 people

1996: 14 lines per 100 people

Moldova



1994: 13 lines per 100 people

1996: 13 lines per 100 people

Romania



1994: 13 lines per 100 people

1996: 13 lines per 100 people

Kazakstan



1994: 12 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Georgia



1994: 10 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Azerbaijan



1994: 9 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Turkmenistan



1994: 8 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Kyrgyzstan



1994: 8 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Bosnia



1994: 7 lines per 100 people

1996: 12 lines per 100 people

Uzbekistan



1994: 7 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Tajikistan



1994: 5 lines per 100 people

1996: not available

Albania



1994: 2 lines per 100 people

1996: 3 lines per 100 people
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