Broadband Strategies Toolkit / Case Studies / Turkey / 2. The Broadband Ecosystem

Broadband in Turkey

2 The Broadband Ecosystem

This section develops a country snapshot of the national broadband ecosystem in a historical, institutional and economic context. Different aspects of national broadband adoption will be covered such as infrastructure, services, market environment, applications and usage.

2.1 Synopsis of Recent Evolution of Markets and Public Sector Reform

Reform and structural change in the overall ICT and broadband sector started early with the most important segment of telecommunications. The growth and evolution of the Turkish telecom industry in the last 30 years had five separate phases:

    • Infrastructure pickup (1980 to 1984): Network infrastructure buildup was a priority and public investments played a major role in this period. As a result, the number of access lines grew by 14 percent on average; however, despite the acceleration in telecom investments and growth in the subscriber base, long waiting lines remained during this time.
    • Fast wire line growth (1985 to 1994): The late 1980s was a period of ongoing intense infrastructure investment and fast growth. During this period, the government’s annual telecommunications investments averaged US$ 656 million and access lines grew by an average of 20 percent annually. Also, the PTT (“Posta Telefon Telegraf”) was split into postal services and Turk Telekom. Two GSM 900 licenses were granted in 1993 to Turkcell and Telsim, with revenue sharing agreements with Turk Telekom.
    • Wireless revolution (1995 to 1999): The late 1990s were characterized by explosive growth in wireless phone subscriptions. In 2000, annual subscription growth exceeded 100 percent, and wireless phone penetration reached 25 percent. Average annual investment in the wireless subsector was more than US$ 1 billion. During this period, the government continued investments in wire line at US$ 560 million per year and wire line penetration reached 28 percent. There were several unsuccessful attempts to privatize Turk Telekom.
    • Preparation for liberalization (2000 to 2004): This period is characterized by maturity in wire line and decelerated growth and increased competition in wireless. Two GSM 1800 MHz licenses were auctioned in May 2000, at a substantially higher fee (close to US$ 3 billion including VAT, compared to US$ 500 million for the initial licenses bought in 1999) to end the revenue-sharing agreements. The Telecommunications Law in 2000 established an independent regulator, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) and predetermined full market liberalization starting from January 2004.
    • The period of post liberalization and broadband revolution (2004-...): The government maintained its full support for liberalization and privatization of the telecommunications sector. The ownership of Telsim, a privately owned telecom operator, was transferred to the government after its owners were convicted of fraud. The operator was afterwards privatized in an international tender won by Vodafone in December 2005. 3G mobile licenses were awarded to all three operators, Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea, in 2008 and services began in 2009. This period is also characterized with increasing competition, declining fixed line penetration and falling voice revenues. Broadband, both fixed and mobile, have become a major source of revenue and a general technological platform for overall communication services.

As a result of structural policies in order to liberalize the market competition flourished, new entrants emerged as strong operators and foreign capital flew into the country.* The incumbent operator of the telecommunication sector is Turk Telekom. The legal monopoly of Turk Telekom in the field of fixed line telephone services ended in 2004 and the sector was opened to full competition. Since then, many operators entered the sector to operate in the field of fixed line telephone services. 55% of the public shares in Turk Telekom were privatized in 2005. As regards to mobile subsector services started as early as 1994 and currently three operators, namely Turkcell, Vodafone, and Avea, are operating in the field of mobile communication. Nonetheless a distinction should be made between fixed and mobile segments of communications. As to the national market, the fixed and mobile subsectors have radically dissimilar configurations in terms of productivity, liberalization, and ownership. Mobile is more competitive and productive, with a more advanced regulatory structure. On the other hand, in the fixed subsector, productivity is relatively low.* McKinsey Global Institute (2003), Turkey: Making the Productivity and Growth Breakthrough

As observed in many other developed and saturated markets, fixed-line penetration is in continuous decline since its peak period of 2001-2004. Consequently, the penetration rate is down to 23.3 percent in 2009, from around 28 percent in 2004. The penetration is low compared to EU countries, for example 37 percent in France, 43 percent in Germany, 46 percent in Greece and 31 percent in Hungary.* According to the analysts the outlook for fixed-line telephone penetration does not look promising. Fixed-line penetration is expected to decline to 19 telephone main lines per 100 people by 2014. The Turkish mobile telecommunications segment has achieved a considerable growth with a share of 60 percent within total sector revenue in 2008 and is expected to continue growing. Mobile number portability (MNP), launched in November 2008, as well as 3G mobile services introduced in July 2009, have accelerated the competition between the three market players.

Analysts forecast mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) are also expected to start operating in the market along with the three mobile operators. Mobile-phone subscribers are expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.5 percent between 2010 and 2014, following a fall of 0.5 percent in 2009. This will increase the mobile-phone penetration rate in Turkey to about 113 percent in 2014, similar to most EU countries, where penetration rates are generally around 100-120 percent.

2.2 Institutional Setup: Current Policy, Legal and Regulatory Framework

Table 2‑1 exhibits major institutions and establishments that are involved in the ICT and broadband sector. The State Planning Organization (SPO) is the leading institution regarding government policies and strategies for the overall ICT sector. It prepares pivotal national strategies and programs such as development plans, economic programs and sector strategies and action plans. SPO is also involved in resource allocation to e-government projects and applications and has access to private sector organizations through various mechanisms. The Office of the Prime Minister has lately become a significant coordinating and a consulting body in terms of e-government initiatives. In regards to ICT related research and determining the national agenda for general science and technology policies the Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) is the main body.

The Ministry of Transport and Communication (MoTC) is responsible for sector oversight in the provision of public services including information and communications to the end users. The MoTC is also the top official body on issues of safety, quality, standardization and balanced development of the communications infrastructure. The Information and Communications Technologies Authority (ICTA), founded in 2000, has the overall regulatory responsibility over communications sector.

A number of non-governmental organizations are also involved in the general direction and structure of the ICT sector. The most influential establishments include the Turkish Informatics Association (TBD), Informatics Sector Association (TUBIDER) and Turkish Informatics Industry Association (TUBISAD).

Turkey’s public sector has a tradition of passing legislation rather than using secondary regulations to interpret basic laws. In an attempt to liberalize communications, to regulate provision, diffusion and usage of information and enable e-transformation different legislation was enacted throughout the 2000s. As to the legal framework in effect (or pending) the following documents constitute the fundamental architecture for the nation:

Table 2‑1 Major institutions and establishments in ICT sector

  • In the field of Information Society: Right to Information Law (2003), Inclusion of cybercrime in the Criminal Code (2004), Electronic Signature Law (2004), Amendments in the Intellectual Property Rights Law, Universal Service Law (2005), Law No. 5651 on regulating broadcast in Internet and combating crimes committed through such broadcast (2007), Electronic Communications Law (2008), and secondary legislation on telecommunications.
  • In the field of IT and e-government: Public Procurement Law (2008), Census Services Law, Law No.5942 amendments in the Traffic Law No.2918, Circulars regarding the payment of taxes online, Draft Data Protection and Privacy Law (pending in the Parliament), e-Commerce studies regarding the harmonization of 2000/31 EC, and Draft law covering partial amendments for various e-government services.* For a more detailed discussion please see OECD (2007) E Government Studies: Turkey, Paris.

Box 2‑1 gives a quick snapshot of major national strategies and initiatives targeting e-transformation in the public sector and broadband adoption at large. Evolution of public policies with regard to Internet based technologies and e-transformation can be analyzed under four distinct periods:

    • Data processing and computerization (1970-1990): During this period the focus of public policy was mainly on automating back-office functions, such as processing of the census and taxes.
    • Building basic ICT capabilities (1990-2000): In the 1990s, there emerged an effort to provide basic ICT facilities and capabilities from a modernization perspective of the government sector. The “Turkey: Informatics and Economic Modernization” project of the World Bank in 1993 was an initiator in this sense. In the second half of 1990s the National Informatics Infrastructure Main Plan of the Ministry of Transportation was an early example of the first organized action in the public sector. However the succession of governments; high inflation and recession; and political and economic instability prevented much implementation from taking place.
    • The era of e-government (2000-2010): Political stability with Development and Justice Party rule following 2002 and negotiation process with the EU helped government agencies to devise more integrated and organized frameworks for action which included active participation of private sector and non-governmental organizations. The E-Transformation Project and the Information Society Action Plan are good examples of this period. The overall goal in these documents was defined as promoting Information Society polices to increase Turkey’s competitiveness. A further goal was to move from labor-intensive production to a higher-value-added production and from providing a source of low-cost labor to a highly educated workforce in a knowledge based economy. However going beyond rhetoric, the real focus was on implementing e-government applications and demand aggregation policies rather than promoting e-commerce and the digital economy.
    • Beyond e-government (2010-…): With increasing diffusion of ICTs into business applications and government operations, there are now new signals calling for a shift in public policies. Growing businesses are in clear need of accelerated ICT adoption to leverage their competitive power. The high level of investment in e-government applications is clearly just one component of modernizing the public sector. To better harness the transformative potential of ICTs government agencies are now starting to look beyond e-government. The National Vision for Broadband Strategy and updating studies of the Information Society Strategy provide good illustrations of this process.

Box 2‑1 Recent strategies and initiatives related to e-government and broadband ecosystem

(Source: Interviews with Dr. Ramazan Altınok, Dr. Ertugrul Karacuha, Emin Sadık Aydın, Furkan Civelek, Ahmet Hasanbeseoglu and Ugur Terzioglu).

  • “Turkey: Informatics and Economic Modernization” report was prepared by the World Bank in 1993.
  • The Ministry of Transportation published “the National Informatics Infrastructure Main Plan” (TUENA) in 1998. The plan aimed at developing policy actions and strategies for enabling transition to an Information Society. The Internet Advisory Council and The E-Commerce Coordination Council were established in the same year.
  • Turkey joined the eEurope+ Initiative, together with other EU candidate countries, in June 2001. Soon after, Turkey started the eTurkey Initiative, which includes the same goals as eEurope+.
  • A new government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) took office on 18 November 2002. The Urgent Action Plan (UAP) was developed. This plan included the foundation of the e-Transformation Turkey Project. The Project initiated in February 2003 with Prime Ministry Circular. The State Planning Organization (SPO) was assigned to co-ordinate the e-Transformation Turkey Project. To realize the stated objectives and to ensure the success of e-Tr, a new co-ordination unit, the Information Society Division, was established in SPO in March 2003.
  • Within the framework of e-TR two action plans were executed: Short Term Action Plan (STAP) with 73 actions (2003-2004) (completion rate: 47%), 2005 Action Plan with 50 actions (2005) (completion rate: 40%)
  • Information Society Strategy (2006-2010) and Action Plan were developed by SPO and took effect by a High Planning Council decision on 11 July 2006. A new institutional structure was formed by introducing e-Transformation Turkey Executive Board, e-Transformation Leaders and an Advisory Board.
  • Prime Minister’s Office prepared the countries first National Broadband Vision in cooperation with relevant stakeholders and participation with private sector. The National Broadband Vision under three versions (Turkish, English and Arabic) is to be published before end March 2011.
  • SPO commenced studies to update its Information Society Strategy and Action Plan to finalize before end of 2011, and decided to arrange a separate chapter on broadband ecosystem.

Turkey faces a new window of opportunity with regard to upgrading competition and productivity by means of better ICT adoption. Promoting and creating a viable broadband ecosystem is the key to success. The country can either let the market determine the pace of development or promote a more rapid development of broadband infrastructure, as has been done in advanced countries. Defining, monitoring, and promoting the broadband ecosystem with effective means is an important area where more focus should be devoted.

2.3 Infrastructure Development

One of the fundamental aspects of broadband ecosystems is broadband infrastructure. As broadband technologies and applications flourish rapidly, providing good infrastructural capacity has been a key policy concern among government officials. Evaluating infrastructure developments require analysts to monitor a number of indicators at the same time since any single dimension will not be sufficient to provide a complete picture.

Broadband is typically defined as a “high-speed communications network” that offers internet connectivity with download speeds of at least 256 kbit/s. *,3343,en_ 2649_34225_39575598_1_1_1_1,00.html This definition based on the minimum level of speed is a matter of debate though it is clear that broadband technologies are significantly different from dial-up lines in terms of functioning. No distinct definition for broadband exists in Turkey.

Three basic criteria are incorporated to provide an integrated picture of Turkish broadband development: Penetration, technologies and prices. A benchmarking technique is utilized in order to obtain a better picture of the relative performance of national broadband capacity both across countries as well as over time. In isolation, there is a tendency to view national growth rates as high, since, as with any new technology, growth is often in the double digits.

2.3.1 Broadband penetration

Overall performance in making broadband an essential part of daily life has been uneven and subject to significant variations among nations. The divide in performance of countries is best reflected by the concept of broadband penetration gap. The broadband gap is defined as the discrepancy between benchmark countries and that of host country in terms of adoption of broadband technologies generally measured in household or population penetration. In the case of Turkey, there is a significant fixed broadband gap as compared to other OECD members (Figure 2‑1).

A number of factors are important in determining penetration rates but as a general observation countries with relatively high fixed broadband penetration rates tend to have relatively higher per capita GDP and well developed communications infrastructure.* OECD (2008), Broadband Growth and Policies in OECD Countries, Paris. Studies indicate that, though the relationship is not necessarily casual, per capita income is correlated to fixed broadband penetration with a significant correlation coefficient of 0.70. Since the Turkish economy has depicted a strong rebound in the post crisis environment and medium to long-term outlook is promising, rising per capita income levels should establish a major driver force for broadband infrastructure development.

Figure 2‑1 Fixed broadband penetration gap with selected countries, 2010

Source: OECD broadband portal and author’s own calculations)

Turkey faces a challenge in order to catch up with OECD members in broadband technologies. Despite growth in broadband infrastructure, when compared to advanced countries, Turkey has recorded somewhat poor performance and has not been able to close the broadband gap. As of the second quarter of 2010, in terms of fixed broadband technologies the leading countries reached penetration levels above 35 percent while Turkey managed only a 9.4 percent subscription based penetration rate.

Turkey’s fixed broadband growth rate is lagging the OECD area. During 2010 Turkish fixed broadband growth was 0.83 percent compared to the OECD average of 1.72 percent (Figure 2‑2. When compared to major developing economies, Turkish broadband growth is considerably lower; for instance India is expanding its broadband capacity with a growth of 62 per cent in 2010.

Nevertheless the fixed broadband penetration rate in Turkey still exceeds some European countries such as Poland, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania, and is very close to the rates in Portugal, Hungary, Spain and Estonia. On the other hand, the personal computer (PC) penetration level in Turkey in 2009 was only about 25.3 percent, compared to 77 percent in the UK. Since broadband usage depends on PC penetration, increasing PC usage and ownership in Turkey are expected to create opportunities for the broadband market.* Economist Intelligence Unit, 2010.

Figure 2‑2 Fixed broadband (per 100 inhabitants), net increase, June (2009-2010) (Source: OECD)

Turkey’s relatively well-developed mobile network has a penetration level around 85 percent and provides another means for broadband access (Figure 2-3). Wireless broadband has shown a significant expansion following the decision of Turkish government to issue 3G licenses during November 2008, making the market an appealing area for future investment. Since then 3G mobile Internet subscriptions using data cards have grown at a rapid pace and as of end 2010 reached 1.5 million subscriptions (total 3G subscriptions reached 19.3 million as of December 2010 according to ICTA). The annual rate of growth in this segment of broadband was 265 percent between 2009 and 2010. As a result mobile broadband is growing much faster than fixed broadband subscriptions (27 percent annual growth as of 2010). Total fixed and mobile broadband through data card subscriptions reached 8.5 million by the end of 2010.

Figure 2‑3 Selected penetration indicators, per 100 inhabitants (source: author)

A saturated voice market with declining revenues has motivated operators to rely on mobile broadband network investments for optimizing profits.* The revenues from broadband access services provided from the fixed network are rapidly increasing. Parallel with the decrease in the number of fixed line telephone subscribers, the revenues from these services decreased by 17.5% between 2006 and 2009 and the revenues of mobile telephone services increased by 24.4% during the same period. There has been a considerable growth in the investments to mobile subsector and more importantly telecommunication operators have changed their strategy significantly by allocating increasingly far more resources to mobile investments. Building up of 3G communication infrastructures constitutes a determining factor for this shift in corporate strategies.

Table 2-2 Broadband indicators, Turkey, 2010

(Source: Adapted from ICTA, Turkstat, Eurostat) (note: Subscription penetration calculated based on population of 73,722,988 reported by Turkstat at December 31 2010)

Item Subscriptions Penetration (per 100 people) Comment

Total broadband



Fixed and mobile through data cards

Fixed broadband



ICTA. ADSL, Cable modem, FTTP

3G subscriptions



ICTA. Technical ability to access mobile broadband without consideration of whether actively using to access Internet

Mobile broadband data cards




% of households

Households with computer


- Desktop



- Portable



Households with access to the Internet



Households with broadband access to the Internet



- of which DSL



Experiences in many countries show that governments should leave the choice of technology and infrastructure expansion as much as possible to market forces while promoting a level playing field for different technologies. Turkey is implementing a policy of increased competition through the privatization of its incumbent telecom operator (55% was sold to the private sector in August 2005) and implementing rules to increase competition such as providing competitors access to telephone lines.* In March 2010, Oger Telecom declared its interest in acquiring an additional share of the Government's stake in TT. The Turkish Government plans to divest a further 15-20 per cent of its stake via an initial public offering. The remaining 15 per cent stake in the operator is already listed on the Turkish stock exchange. Yet this policy was not transformed into increased competition and a high rate of growth in broadband infrastructure. Alternative operators accounting for only 7 percent, the level of competition in fixed broadband access is still very limited.* Source: SPO (2010) Information Society Statistics.

Table 2‑3 Subscription indicators by technology (Source: ICTA)

As the National Broadband Vision (2010-2023) highlights, if Turkey wants to develop its broadband ecosystem rapidly and close the broadband penetration gap with advanced economies the government should follow an integrated and strategic approach in terms of broadband policy. * Office of the Prime Minister (2010) National Broadband Vision, Forthcoming. Waiting for growth in household demand for high-speed Internet access to encourage the development of broadband will take time. The public sector should consider taking a more pronounced role in stimulating the development of broadband infrastructure and using this capacity for modernizing the public sector.

Figure 2‑4 Technological configuration of broadband infrastructure, as percentage shares, 2010

(Source: author)

2.3.2 Broadband technologies

Penetration data does not deliver enough information about the quality improvements in the broadband infrastructure. While the growth rate is slowing down there may still be considerable internal changes as users upgrade their connections with faster speeds. This section helps to illuminate Turkish broadband development from a technological perspective. Backbone network

Until recently there have been two main technologies or platforms over which broadband services have been delivered to consumers. The first is Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) which entails upgrading the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN). The second platform consists of the cable-modem technology, which entails upgrading the cable-tv network.

Figure 2‑5 Breakdown of fixed broadband subscribers by access speeds, 2010

According to the recent data there has been a rapid shift away from lower speed connections.* Source: Information and Communication Technologies Authority (2010), Communications Market Report, Ankara (In Turkish). The great majority of ADSL subscribers (64 percent) have an 8 Mbps connection. The share of the subscribers who have 1 Mbps connections has decreased dramatically from 42% to 26% in just six months of 2010. Local access technologies

There has been an impressive shift away from dial-up Internet connections to broadband. In 2005, dial-up connections still accounted for 40 per cent of fixed Internet connections but had already fallen to just 10 percent by 2010.

In Turkey, xDSL is the most widely used technology accounting for 94 per cent of broadband subscribers.* ICTA (2009), Electronic Communication Sector in Turkey, Market Statistics Report, February 2010, p. 20 While 3.9 percent of the subscribers use cable networks and 2 percent of subscribers have fiber technologies for broadband access the number of xDSL subscribers has touched to 6.6 million by end of 2010. When compared to EU countries Turkish broadband is relatively far more concentrated on conventional technologies like xDSL.

Box 2‑2 Leveling the field: The battle of broadband in national market

(Source: Atiyas Izak (2010) Regulation and Competition in the Telecommunications Industry: An Update; and interviews with Dr. Ramazan Altınok, Dr. Ertugrul Karacuha, Emin Sadık Aydın, Furkan Civelek, Ahmet Hasanbeseoglu and Ugur Terzioglu)

The incumbent Turk Telekom (TT) provides landline, mobile and Internet services. It launched ADSL services in 2003, and currently offers Internet services in selected regions through its subsidiary TTnet. In 2005 in a drive for privatization, the government sold a 55 per cent stake of TT to the Saudi-owned Oger Group. In March 2010, Oger Telecom declared its interest in acquiring an additional share of the Government's stake in TT. The Turkish Government plans to divest a further 15-20 per cent of its stake via an initial public offering. The remaining 15 per cent stake in the operator is already listed on the Turkish stock exchange.

One of the key benefits of TT’s privatization is the fact that it has lost the special status of a state-owned company and as a result is obliged to follow the same regulations as any other Turkish telecoms operator. TT is likely to remain aggressive within the telecoms marketplace and in the regulatory process as it tries to maintain its leading position. Thus, the low level of competition in the broadband internet is partly due to the strategic behavior of Turk Telekom to prevent the entry of alternative Internet service providers. In most countries incumbent operators such as Turk Telekom have been under the regulatory obligation of allowing new entrants to use the existing network to provide their own DSL service In a landmark decision taken in November 2008, the Competition Authority has imposed a fine of 12.4 million TL (about €6.2 million) on Turk Telekom for abusing its dominance in the wholesale broadband Internet market through price squeeze in the retail Internet market. In its decision, the Competition Board stated that Turk Telekom and its Internet subsidiary TTNet endured operating without profits for long periods of time and implemented campaigns that would not cover losses in reasonable amounts of time and that these strategies were executed in order to monopolize the sector. In a recent decision the Competition Authority stated that Türk Telekom should provide naked DSL services. Provision of naked DSL means that Turk Telekom can no longer bundle voice and data services together and that the subscriber can subscribe to DSL services alone, without having to pay for voice services as well.

In recent years Turksat with its UYDUNET cable services has increased its market share by winning some 274 thousand broadband customers as of 2010. However since the cable TV infrastructure is operational mostly in urban areas and lacking somewhat more effective business models the company has not made a major breakthrough in the domestic market.

Another striking development was the introduction of 3G services which had a significant impact on the broadband sector. The three mobile operators, Turkcell, Avea and Vodafone, are trying to find new sources of revenue in anticipation of the difficulties associated with increasing subscriber numbers in the saturating market. All three won 3G licences in December 2008 and launched 3G services at the end of July 2009. Avea allocated TRY 1 billion to be spent mostly on 3G network development during 2009. Vodafone followed suit with a TRY 1.3 billion investment allocation. At the end of December 2010, there were 1,448,020 mobile broadband subscribers, showing a 265 per cent growth over the last 12 months. At the end of 2010, the number of customers on 3G networks reached 19.4 million

With the emergence of alternative network technologies TT is now under pressure for adopting a more business oriented strategy rather than enjoying its domination in the fixed market. TT introduced its new Internet speed package days before 2011 which enables speeds of up to 32 Mbps with VDSL2 and up to 8 Mbps through ADSL. TT shall begin offering packages with speeds of up to 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps with VDSL2 technology, and shall increase the speed up to 16 Mbps with ADSL2+.

TT will need to work hard to retain its market dominance however, as mobile operator Turkcell is investing in considerable fibre infrastructure through its subsidiary Superonline. Vodafone Turkey also bought a major alternative operator in late 2009. Another point is that EU candidacy is prompting Turkey’s telecoms regulator to strengthen the regulation of the sector and curtail TT’s monopolistic powers.

Turk Telecom is leading provider of DSL and owns all of fixed telephone infrastructure (16 million connections in 2010). As of 2009 the share of alternative operators reached to 6.3%. Compared to the previous year, alternative operators’ subscriber number increased by 29%. Currently two types of Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) namely ‘full access’ and ‘shared access’ have been implemented in Turkey. 163 central offices have been opened to access of alternative operators by the end of 2009 under the LLU regulations of the Authority. Currently alternative operators have technical access to almost 7 million PSTN and 2.6 million ADSL subscribers via the above mentioned 163 central offices. Besides LLU, operators can offer broadband Internet access services to their customers using Turk Telekom’s other wholesale broadband access services such as xDSL simple resale and xDSL bit-stream access (BSA) which enable ISPs to access the fixed broadband network at different levels. Some promotional campaigns including LLU in the above mentioned wholesale access services have been approved by the Authority upon Turk Telekom’s proposal in 2009.

Co-location areas and problems encountered at central offices opened to access have been observed within the central office surveys carried out in June. Moreover the outdoor DSLAM implementations of the incumbent operator are also observed.

In accordance with the relevant legislation and regulations, a Reference xDSL Resale Offer has been offered to the Authority by Turk Telekom at the end of June 2009. The public consultation process regarding to the draft offer has been completed and approval procedure of the reference offer is ongoing. Besides, some new re-sale tariffs proposed by Turk Telekom have been included in the existing offer upon approval by the Authority. In this context, ADSL 2 Mbit/s with 4 GB quota, ADSL 8 Mbit/s unlimited, MEB ADSL 2 Mbit/s, 4 Mbit/s unlimited, ADSL up to 8 Mbit/s unlimited, with 4 GB and 6 GB quota, ADSL 512 Kbit/s with 512 MB quota and ADSL2+ 16 Mbit/s unlimited resale tariffs have been approved in 2009 and included in Turk Telekom Reference xDSL Resale Offer.

Mobile broadband offers a competitive alternative to fixed broadband. Turkcell, Avea and Vodafone, the three operators in mobile segment had authorization from the government to provide 3G services as of December 2008, and became operational by July 2009. Since then mobile broadband subscriptions recorded an explosive expansion. With some 1.45 million subscriptions (December 2010) and a growth rate of 265 percent, mobile broadband holds great promise for Turkey, particularly given the limited competition on the fixed market. Mobile broadband provided over the UMTS platform with HSPA extensions came relatively late to Turkey. The 3G market is benefiting from the deployment of HSPA technology and by the introduction of new smartphones. Growth has been dramatic and mobile broadband accounted for 17% of all broadband subscriptions by the end of 2010.

Though the level of competition in fixed broadband is limited compared to more advanced economies, with a broader definition of broadband including the mobile segment, Turk Telekom as the incumbent operator is losing its market share rapidly. TT’s broadband market domination has been somewhat challenged by mobile operators’ (Turkcell, Avea and Vodafone) success in targeting mobile broadband customers and partly due to increases in cable and fiber subscriptions. TTNet’s market share in the broadly defined broadband market was down from 93% to 71% since early 2009. By contrast the market share of mobile broadband operators grew explosively up to 17% following the opening of 3G services in the country. It is estimated that mobile broadband subscribers will occupy an increasingly prominent place in Turkey’s broadband sector. These are broadband customers who use devices such as netbooks, smartphones and USB sticks to connect to the Internet wirelessly via a high-speed (3G/HSPA) network. The share of cable network operator Turksat has also augmented from 1.3 % to 3.2 % during the last two years and fiber connections expanded their share from 1% to 1.8 % since early 2010 (Figure 2‑6).

Turksat provides both satellite and cable television services. It has around 1.2 million cable television subscribers.* Turksat has upgraded its networks and made cable broadband services available to the majority of homes in urban areas. Nonetheless the cable network is in its takeoff phase and needs an effective management model for further expansion. The Turksat “Uydunet” service provides its subscribers with broadband Internet access through its cable infrastructure at speeds ranging from 1 Mbps to 20 Mbps. One challenge for expanding cable broadband access is that most TV subscribers in Turkey have a preference for satellite delivery (some 10 million satellite dishes in mid-June 2010).*

Figure 2‑6 Shares of technology in total broadband subscriptions, percent, 2010

Figure 2‑7 Percentage of fibre connections in total broadband, June 2010 (Source: OECD)

Fiber networks are ideal because the capacity is much higher than traditional copper lines and relatively easy to expand once the fiber is in place simply by adding additional lasers to a line. When compared to advanced Asian and European economies Turkey lags in fiber broadband penetration (Figure 2‑7). However the recent expansion in fiber subscriptions is very promising and it indicates the demand for high bandwidth network access could possibly be ready in the country. During 2010, the share of fiber subscriptions in the total broadband market reached 1.8 percent.

In terms of technology deployment, though there have been outstanding market developments that reflect the overall potential in demand and supply sides, the majority of Turkish broadband infrastructure is based on traditional forms of connectivity devices which do not allow high bandwidth data services such as advanced e-health and multichannel television. Turkey shifted from a dial up network structure to a broadband dominated one at a very rapid pace. Turkey’s fiber Internet backbone provides for high-speed connections, but this has not translated to a high number of broadband users.

In the long run the leading policy challenge for the government would be facilitating the development of high speed broadband networks most notably fiber. High-speed broadband has strategic importance and should be promoted. Much as traffic expands to fill roadway capacity after the building of superhighways, having more broadband capacity will likely facilitate the delivery of government e-services, provide a foundation for e-government in whole sectors of government, and stimulate the development of e-business. Besides the recent rapid shift into high bandwidth subscriptions and explosive growth in mobile and fiber segments indicate that the future demand for broadband ecosystems will be strong. Turkish universities have already developed their own broadband network, as has the National Adjudication Network Project (UYAP). The e-health initiative is proposing to build its own network for exchanging data.

The lack of a complete and strategic approach would impair this great opportunity. There are signs of a better understanding emerging in government circles. The National Broadband Vision has urgently called on the public and private sectors for the development of a holistic government approach to broadband. SPO is getting ready to update the nation’s Information Society Strategy and disclosed publicly that it shall prepare a separate chapter on broadband. A more organized approach should prepare for harder policy designs to broadband challenges and ensure competition in the national broadband market since it is the best option and the main driver of continuous improvements.

The Turkish government should also ensure a more effective regulative approach for broadening competition in the broadband market. The development of competition in broadband has been extremely slow, primarily because the Ministry of Transport and the Information and Telecommunication Technologies Authority have been slow in adopting, implementing and enforcing the necessary secondary legislation. Analysts argue that Turk Telekoms influence on the Ministry and the Information and Telecommunication Technologies Authority’s lack of full independence from the Ministry are to a large extent responsible for this state of affairs.

2.3.3 Prices

Prices are a crucial indicator in evaluating the state of broadband development in any given country. Analysis of prices, the level of service, and the range of choice available to users, can help inform questions about the take-up and use of broadband services as well as in assessing how competitive broadband access is in individual markets. While there is still not enough data to systematically examine price and performance changes, the trend in prices is very much downward; and the trend in performance is upward. Competition is the main driver of improvements in price and performance.

International comparison suggests that prices of broadband services in Turkey are among the highest in OECD and EU economic areas. The average broadband monthly price per advertised Mbit/s in Turkey is about 40 percent higher than the OECD average. When prices are corrected for purchasing power parity, prices in Turkey are the highest (). Turkey is also lagging behind in high-speed connectivity prices. Prices in Turkey are relatively cheaper for low speed connections and relatively more expensive for high-speed connections.

Figure 2‑2 Broadband average monthly subscription price, Oct. 2009, USD PPP (Source: OECD)

Presenting the latest situation as of March 2011, Table 2‑2 confirms that high prices and affordability are among main concerns in Turkish broadband market. Turk Telekom offers DSL services with different speed options. The baseline ADSL offer at 1 Mbps costs US$ 13.2 per month with a 1 GB cap on data transfer. Higher speed services are much more expensive than EU countries. The highest speed 100 Mbps service is priced at US$ 94.3 per month with unlimited data option and a fiber 32 Mbps service costs US$ 27.2 per month with a 10 GB Cap. Turk Telekom’s ADSL2+ 16 Mbps services are priced at US$ 37.3 and USD 20.9 with unlimited and 5 GB Cap respectively. Turk Telekom also offers ADSL technology to consumers with the highest speed option 8 Mbps going from US$ 69 per month with unlimited data transfer and decreasing prices for more limited speeds and data cap options.

Among independent ISPs offering broadband Internet services, Superonline provides DSL and fiber Internet access with different speed options. The baseline starts with a 1 Mbps speed service at USD 28.7 with unlimited data transfer, and 8 Mbps speed option goes from USD 24.7 and USD 18.3 with 6 GB and 4 GB Cap respectively. Among fiber connections the highest option is 100 Mbps costing USD 125.9 with unlimited data transfer.

As the largest cable TV service provider, Turksat runs its Uydunet to offer broadband services at different speed options. The baseline is the 1 Mbps speed service costing USD 18.3 per month with unlimited data

transfer. However higher speed services are priced relatively higher than the average ADSL services. The 10 Mbps option costs USD 62.6 and the 20 Mbps service costs USD 125.9 per month without any cap on data transfers. Prices per Mbps offered are significantly higher than ADSL operators.

Table 2‑4 Prices of selected broadband service packages in Turkey, March 2011

(Direct source inquiry to author)

The three mobile operators, Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea are also offering mobile Internet services based on HSDPA technology and there are quite differentiated service packages for consumers. Table 2‑4 presents a selection of these mobile packages most notably the baseline options. All three operators offer 1 GB cap mobile data options at around USD 18-19 as of March 2011.

Since the competition in fixed broadband market has been relatively limited in Turkey, the general downward trend in prices seems to be somewhat partial. The effect of taxes on broadband service pricing is another significant variable in assessing the affordability and performance of the market. As part of the need to augment the tax base during the economic crises of 2000-2001, Turkey raised taxes on telecommunication services. While these measures have increased tax revenues, they had a negative effect on e-services take-up. In 2008 the government considered ways to increase the affordability and thereby the use of e-services by reassessing telecommunication taxes but little has been achieved.

The tax rate applied for broadband products and services include the 18% Value Added Tax (VAT) and an additional 5% Special Communication Tax (SCT) calculated over the price of the related service including VAT. Compared to the other communication services, Internet services are taxed relatively lower: SPC rates on mobile and fixed line communication services are 25% and 15% respectively. Though taxes on Internet services are relatively low the fiscal burden still accounts for a major impact on a middle-income household.

One can expect that when Internet access requires a lower share of monthly per capita income, usage rates increase, everything else being equal. Internet access cost – measured as the Internet subscription cost as share of average monthly income – relatively high. According to analysts, middle-income consumers are generally ready for broadband packages costing less than 3 % of their per capita income.* Source: Interview with Ahmet Hasanbeseoglu from Cisco. In Turkey the Internet access cost of an average broadband package has come down significantly in recent years but still exceeds 3% threshold with a rate around 5%.

National growth performance has created opportunities for broadband expansion and service affordability. The high growth in per capita income in recent years affected positively the broadband affordability by increasing the denominator. It is clear that rising incomes have supported the market and affordability of broadband services in a country where competition was somewhat imperfect.

Internet use will likely increase significantly if the cost of accessing the Internet can be reduced. The government should prompt action to reduce taxes on both telecommunication and broadband services. On the supply side the Information and Communication Technologies Authority should continue to actively stimulate competition in the telecommunications sector to promote faster and more affordable Internet access in line with EU initiatives in this area.

Mobile phones can provide an alternative, less expensive channel for delivery of e-services to citizens and businesses. Given the high number of mobile subscribers in Turkey, the government should consider this channel to provide information and services. In this regard a simple, flat and more affordable tax rate applied to communication services could be a good and less distortive option.