October 10, 2010 6 Comments
Business travelers worldwide fight a constant battle of connectivity. Can I call Home? Can I “Skype” with my family? Do I have adequate Internet access?
During recent business trips to Chisinau, Moldova, I have had the pleasure of working in a country with excellent, if not superior, Internet access within hotels, parks, Internet cafes, and really any other location within the capital city you would like to “jack in” to the Internet.
As I watch my Slingbox connecting to Channel 2 Evening News in Los Angeles, I am enjoying anywhere between 500Kbps and 900Kbps throughput, more than adequate to keep homesickness under control and keep up to date on the community.
The cost of accessing high performance Internet is a fraction of what you would expect to pay in the United States or other “developed” countries, and the performance is among the best I have experiences traveling in at least 15 countries during the past year.
Starnet and Orange take advantage of new terrestrial fiber optic capacity connecting Moldova through Romania, and then directly interconnecting with the global Internet community at Europe’s major Internet Exchange Points, including the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), the Frankfurt Exchange (DE-CIX), and London’s LINX.
A traceroute (following the path an Internet packet takes from my computer to my webhost in California) shows excellent routing outside of Moldova:
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7600]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
C:\Users\John R Savageau>tracert http://www.pacific-tier.com
Tracing route to sbs-p4p.asbs.yahoodns.net [188.8.131.52]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 3 ms 10 ms 2 ms itns.md [184.108.40.206]
2 5 ms 3 ms 3 ms 10.11.16.254
3 7 ms 6 ms 14 ms ex-starnet.starnet.md [220.127.116.11]
4 8 ms 5 ms 10 ms 95-65-3-161.starnet.md [18.104.22.168]
5 68 ms 49 ms 49 ms ge-1-3-0.pat2.dee.yahoo.com [22.214.171.124]
6 135 ms 137 ms 136 ms as-1.pat2.dcp.yahoo.com [126.96.36.199]
7 135 ms 134 ms 205 ms ae-1-d171.msr2.re1.yahoo.com [188.8.131.52]
8 137 ms 137 ms 137 ms gi-1-45.bas-b2.re4.yahoo.com [184.108.40.206]
9 136 ms 139 ms 136 ms p4p2.geo.re4.yahoo.com [220.127.116.11]
Disposable Income Demands Additional Considerations
Market conditions in Moldova are different from the US and other economically developed countries. Those living below the poverty line in Moldova, according to the CIA World Factbook, is around 30% . Disposable income continues to be low, and a small percentage of the population owns or has access to private personal computers.
Thus the cost of Internet access, to develop market, is possibly artificially low. or the US Internet access providers are artificially high…
Cost of accessing prepaid wireless Internet per month through Liberty WiFi Internet Access, a StarNet reseller:
NOTE: 1 US$ = ~12 Moldovan Lei
During a recent visit to Moldova I used Orange’s wireless Internet product, which was about 2 times the price of Liberty WiFi, but with equally impressive performance.
Internet Access is Essential for Moldova’s Development
As Moldova continues to struggle through the challenges of building a market economy, dealing with the issues of a newly democratized country, poor rural infrastructure (roads, telecom, power, etc), and socially coming to grips with their place in the European and Eastern communities, Moldova will need to quickly bring their citizens up to speed with technology and wired everything.
Cloud-based software, such as Microsoft Live Office, Google Docs, Yahoo Mail, and other hosted services will allow Moldovans access to Internet utilities without the high cost of software licensing, further allowing better use of shared resources in Internet cafes, schools, and other public locations. The government is aggressively pursuing modern eGovernment projects to help the citizens reduce the burden of bureaucracy on their lives , and children are exposed to technology throughout the education system.
With Moldova’s Internet Service Providers delivering some of the highest performance network access in the world, Modovans will further be relieved of the burden of constructing large and small data centers, taking advantage of cloud and SaaS service providers located within Europe and North America, returning precious funds to building business – rather than ICT server and services infrastructure.
Moldova Supports Private Enterprise
While there are some items that could use some adjustment, such as high tariffs for importing computer equipment, Moldova has at least supported both domestic and foreign telecom companies in developing both fixed line and wireless infrastructure. Orange (France Telecom), MoldCell (TeliaSonera), and Starnet continue to build fiber optic and wireless network infrastructure, with nearly 100% 3G coverage throughout the country.
The entire wireless system is 4G-ready, and deployment is planned within the next couple of years.