Mariana DRAGUNEA on Wed, 15 Apr 1998 16:55:53 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Building a Romanian market

[Originally to the Online Europe list.-T]

> Bart Dominus <> first asserted:
> > I'm working with a new national ISP in Romania. No, not
> > profitable yet . . . but it looks like it can be. If here, why not
> > elsewhere?
> And then, prompted by Steve, added:
> > The company I'm working with is Dynamic Network technologies (DNT) as
> > in I met them through you and first worked with
> > them as a volunteer late this past fall.
> What Bart failed to add, though, was that DNT is not your average start-up
> company. It's a company OWNED by the non-profit!!! Soros Foundation. So,
> surely, it's not out there to make a profit; it may as well never want to
> make one...
> About volunteering for DNT!, I'd like to have some more comments...
> What happened in Romania is very strange, and I'd like to have your
> opinion. As I'm not an insider in this business, there may be some minor
> inaccuracies in my account, because I relate things as I saw them as a
> consumer of Internet services; actually we are software developers
> (including Internet programs).
> So: The Soros Foundation set up an Internet Program some 5 years ago, aimed
> primarily at high-schools, NGO's, research institution and the like. The
> Foundation set up its own infrastructure (VSAT dishes, access points etc.)
> and it charged nothing for the services...
> Very quickly, though, you could find among its users LOTS of commercial
> companies. Paying NOTHING! They had accounts with the foundation because
> they were friends of sysadmins, or relatives, or the Soros people were
> simply too kind to refuse them, or...
> When things started to get out of control, with way too many users
> overwhelming the Soros infrastructure, the foundation thought of starting
> to charge commercial companies for the services - to cover SOME costs (it
> was 1996).
> They couldn't though charge directly though, because the law would not
> allow a foundation to act like an ISP! It would have also meant to come out
> about the real profile of their users, as they claimed all along that "no
> commercial company is using Soros services".
> This is how, when and why DNT was set up. It simply took over, in the
> clear, the Internet accounts set up with Soros, infrastructure included.
> The result of all this is that, for the average Romanian person or company,
> the (first) idea of an Internet account was that of something you get for
> free from Soros or some academic network. In my view, it also meant that
> all major international ISP's had no chance to compete with this kind of
> "pricing". It also meant that the other ISP's in Romania are small and the
> quality of their service and infrastructure is poor. The exception is
> EUnet, which offers good service, but at a hefty price... (Julf might want
> to write a few words ?)
> This kind of "competition" exists in your countries also? And how much of a
> good thing, and for whom, do you think it is, when "building this market"?
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