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Internet Rights Country Report

Republic of Slovenia

July 2001

Written by Christina H Haralanova




    GDP per capita: $10,078 (1999)
    Population: 1,971,000 (2000)
    Teledensity: 37.80 (2000)
    Cellular Density: 54.66% (2000)
    Internet users: 300,000 (2000)
    Internet hosts: 21,462 (2000)
    Internet Service Providers: 7 (1999) [1]


Slovenia is one of the most economically advanced and prosperous countries in Central Europe. Its GDP per capita is the highest in the region and its economy has enjoyed uninterrupted steady growth since 1993.



Telecommunication Infrastructure

Slovenia has a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure. In 2001, the government intends to enact the new Telecommunications Act that will create the conditions for liberalization of the sector. Slovenians are served by a highly developed and extensive telecommunications network.

The fixed line segment of the market is preparing for an important transformation process starting from 2001, as the legislation for liberalization and plans for the partial sell-off of the state owned monopoly are being finalized. At the same time, the mobile telephony and Internet market, which are open for competition, registered a growing number of customers and operators in 2000. [2]

At its regular session on 29 February, 2001, the National Assembly passed the National Telecommunications Development Programme, submitted by the Government for its third reading. [3] This Programme will stimulate the faster development of the telecommunications in Slovenia through systematic measures including liberalization, privatization and education for development-oriented projects.

One of the goals of this Programme is liberalization and acceleration of telecommunications, in order to achieve the average development of EU members. It is also necessary to set up a regulative body, regulate the inter-network connection, arrange universal service obligations, eliminate limits on the entrance of new telecommunications services operators, provide elastic price control and protect interests of users. The countryside and less developed areas must not be deprived of possibilities to use universal telecommunications services due to liberalization. The Programme also includes measures for how to provide users with these services under acceptable conditions.

Through the liberalization, the role of Telekom Slovenije (TS) has been gradually changing. With the new Law on Telecommunications, it will transform from a public company into a company that will still have on the regulated telecommunications market, due to its dominant position, more obligations than most other organizations in this branch for some time. The Programme envisages the gradual privatization of TS, so that in the first stage, which can be performed relatively quickly, the state would sell its share above 51%. Full digitalization of the long-distance fixed network was planned by the end of 2000.


Fixed Telephone lines

The Slovenian Telecommunications Company - Telecom Slovenije (TS) is 66.5% state- owned. It has a monopoly in the fixed line segment of the market and provides local, long-distance and international voiced telephone, telex, public payphones, global broadband and multimedia telecommunications including Internet access, data telecommunications, and various value-added services. TS is a highly successful company that has recorded impressive profits and undertaken a far-reaching modernization of its services over the last few years.

The government has decided on the partial privatization of TS, the state-owned fixed line, although the method and the timetable of the privatization are still under discussion. One possible plan foresees offering the core business to a foreign strategic partner.

Privatization of Slovenia's telecommunications sector has proven no easy task as its government has discovered in the last several years. Slovenia's telecom regulatory authority, The Ministry of Transport and Communication, had plans of privatization in 2001, but plans to retain its share of TS for at least a year and a half.


Mobile operators

Currently there are four competing mobile network operators in Slovenia. Mobitel, a subsidiary of TS, has a dominant position with around 1 million subscribers at the end of 2000. The second company is Sl.mobil, in which Swedish operator Telia had a 25 percent stake, while Slovenian companies held the rest. In February 2001 Austria's Mobikom mobile operator acquired a 75 percent stake in Sl.mobil. The fourth mobile operator is Debitel, reselling Mobitel's lines. In December 2000, the government awarded mobile telephony licenses for the GSM 1800 MHz frequency to Western Wireless (US), Mobitel and Sl.mobil. In June 2001, the government announced the second opening of its tender for three UMTS mobile phone licenses, the minimum price being US$ 86.1 million. The first tender for UMTS licenses failed in May, after state-owned Mobitel was the only company to apply because of the high asking price. [4]


Government Policy on promoting ICT infrastructure growth

The Telecommunications Law (TL) dates from July 13, 1997 and it includes: the end of the monopoly of Telecom Slovenije by the year 2000; prohibition of callback service; the public action of broadcasting frequencies for use in the telecom services etc. [5]

The TL permits for the first time that private telecommunication providers enter and compete in the telecommunications market. It is provided in the TL that by the end of 2000, Telecom Slovenije should cease to be the exclusive provider of standard telephone services. [6]

In 2001, Slovenia plans to adopt a new TL that will be fully harmonized with EU legislation. The law will liberalize access to six telecommunication networks and the provision of services and define the licensing procedures and pricing rules.

In the telecommunications sector, little progress has been made with the liberalisation and harmonisation of legislation in relation to the comparative economic development of Slovenia. The measures to implement the Telecommunications Act such as the mutual recognition of conformity of type approval certificates and a comprehensive licensing regime have not yet been adopted. It is still necessary to liberalise public voice telephony and alternative networks for the provision of telecommunications services, and to establish a separate regulatory authority. Other measures must also be taken to rebalance tariffs. [7]



Availability of Internet Access in Slovenia

Slovenia has a small but dynamically growing Internet market. The number of the users is around 300,000, although most of them use the Internet for non-business activities. Major part of the users is aged between 15 and 65 years. The number of registered Slovenian domains in June 2000 was 8088. The number of hosts in January 2001 was 21.868, and the websites appearing in Slovenian language for the same period of time were 457,086. [8] Computer usage in schools is among the highest in Europe.

One third of all weekly users use the Internet one hour per week. Two thirds of weekly users spend 5 hours or less on the Internet per week. Only one tenth use the Internet more than 10 hours per week.

The largest player on the Internet is SiOL, a subsidiary of TS. Its major competitor is Telemach, an Internet and applications service provider that has recently developed an extensive fiber-optic network suitable for full-service multimedia communications. The first company to offer e-commerce was EON, a consortium of Slovenian Post and S-net and the Telemach network. EON was one of the first companies to provide WAP access and services. Slovenian technology company Zaslon is the leader in the e-banking market and has created an Internet infrastructure for all the major banks and other financial institutions.

The e-commerce legislation was accepted relatively early and came into the power on August 22, 2000. At the beginning of 2000, e-commerce among final consumers is still very small. It is estimated to be below 5 million DEM. The factors for a slow expansion are specific obstacles in the on-line authorisation of credit cards, a limited supply, inadequate marketing strategies, and, of course, a small total population.

Thus, the majority of shoppers still go abroad. The in-depth analysis of the Web site of the largest retailer, Mercator (www.mercator.si), showed that the problems that prevent on-line shopping are a lack of interest and a lack of a clear advantage. The percentage of users that actually shop on line even declined in 1999, as newcomers are much less likely to make an online purchase. Thus, this percentage is below 10% among all active (monthly) Internet users.

With respect to on-line banking, the interest is much higher (double) compared to on-line shopping, however, despite a few early banks that introduced e-banking a few years ago, banks in general have only recently offered the convenient options of e-banking for the majority of customers. Almost 15% of Internet users are practicing certain forms of e-banking [9]

There are some considerations about copyright legislation, which tends to be good; the critical issue is, however, its (slow) enforcement. Illegal use of software is similar to the situation in the rest of Eastern Europe. The so-called gray imports of top PC software vendors give some problems to official players in the market. Trends are the same as in the developed countries. Imports and exports of hardware are very liberal. No customs duties are imposed to imports. [10]

The Main Internet providers in Slovenia are the following [11]:

Slovenia that was, only three years ago, listed among the top European countries with respect to the Internet host penetration is now clearly lagging behind the Czech Republic and Hungary, not to mention Estonia. However, comparisons with some global studies show that the stagnating percentage of Internet users in the total population is actually around 15%, bringing it close to that of Italy, Spain, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic, the countries that were, a few years ago, clearly behind.[12]



List of Sources

  1. The world factbook, Country listing; url: http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook

  2. Slovenia investment profile for 2001, prepared by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

  3. Emerging Europe Research Group, url: http://www.eerg.com

  4. Office of Telecommunications Technologies, U.S. Department of Commerce, url: http://infoserv2.ita.doc.gov/ot

  5. There is a full version of the Telecommunications Law on the following url: http://www.urandi-list.si but it is only in Slovenian.

  6. The Central and Eastern Europe Business Information Centre (CEEBIC), Comments on the Slovenian Telecommunications Law,July 13, 1997; url: http://www.mac.doc.gov/eebic/cables/1997/july/lju1685.htm

  7. European Parliament article, Slovenia Community Aqcuis Telecommunications, document written on February 15, 2000; url: http://www.europarl.eu.int/enlargement/briefings/46a3_en.htm#slovenia

  8. Research on Internet in Slevnia, 2000, http://www.ris.org

  9. http://www.ris.org/ecommerce.html

  10. Country Commercial Guides for FY 2000, http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2000/europe/slovenia00_05.html

  11. Research on Internet in Slevnia, 2000, http://www.ris.org/providers.html

  12. Research On Internet in Slovenia, 2000 http://www.ris.org/news44.html




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