Independent Balkan News Agency

More than 67% of Bulgarian households have home internet, close to 18% shop online

More than 67% of Bulgarian households have home internet, close to 18% shop online

About 67.3 per cent of Bulgarian households have internet access at home, according to a 2017 survey which said that this was an increase of 3.8 percentage points over 2016.

The annual survey, by Bulgaria's National Statistical Institute (NSI), found that 66.9 per cent of Bulgarian households had a fast and reliable broadband connection, which included fixed wired connection and internet connection through a mobile phone network.

Households with children used the global network more actively and 87.2 per cent of them had internet access, compared to 62 per cent of the households without children, the NSI said in an announcement of the results on December 8.

Despite the dynamic development of information technologies in Bulgaria, 32.2 per cent of the households still do not have internet access at home.

More than a half of them (53.6 per cent) said that the main reason was the lack of skills for working with the internet, 48.8 per cent believed that they did not need it (not useful, interesting, etc.) and according to 27.9 per cent, the equipment was expensive.

In 2017, 58.8 per cent of the individuals aged between 16 and 74 years used a computer every day or at least once a week at home, at work or any other place.

There is a stable trend of growth in the regular internet usage by individuals and 61.9 per cent of them used the internet every day or at least once a week.

The most active ICT users were young people aged between 16 and 24 years, as respectively 82.8 per cent and 88.1 per cent of them used a computer or the internet every day or at least once a week.

With age increasing, the desire and need of the people to be present in the global network decreases and only 16.3 per cent of the individuals aged between 65 and 74 years surf regularly and 15.7 per cent used a computer in their daily routine.

Males were more active in regular computer and internet usage in comparison to females. About 59.7 per cent of men used a computer, and 63 per cent used the internet while the respective relative shares of the women were 58.0 per cent and 60.8 per cent.

There were significant differences in the regular use of computers and internet by education - while 89.8 per cent of those with tertiary education used a computer in their daily activities regularly and 90.2 per cent surf the global network regularly, only 27.7 per cent and 32 per cent of the individuals with basic or lower education benefited from the opportunities that computers and internet provide.

The employment situation also affected the activity of the individuals in the digital society. Computers were most often used by students (95.6 per cent) and 97.8 per cent of them surf regularly. Among employees and self-employed people, the relative shares were respectively 76.3 per cent and 79.6 per cent.

Almost half of the unemployed regularly benefited from the opportunities provided by the internet (44.4 per cent), and 41.0 per cent used computers. The most preferred device to access the internet away from home or work was the mobile phone used by 85.3 per cent of the active internet users. 36.1 per cent surfed the internet by a laptop or a tablet computer.

Regular internet users used the network mostly for communication. 97.4 per cent of them carried out phone or video calls, participated in social networks, sent/received e-mails or shared self-created content (text, photos, music, videos) in a website.

The most popular social network in Bulgaria was Facebook, as 38.5 per cent of the regular internet users checked their account several times per day.

Eighty-seven per cent of the Bulgarians used the internet to access information, read online newspapers, news, magazines, seek health related information or find information about goods or services. The relative shares of the people who used the internet for civic and political participation (posting opinions on civic or political issues via websites, taking part in on-line consultations or voting) and for professional purposes (looking for a job or sending a job application, participating in professional networks) were equal - 13 per cent.

Survey results showed that 28.4 per cent of the regular internet users used storage space on the internet to store documents, photos, music, videos or other files. About 29.7 per cent of males and 27.2 per cent of females used cloud services. The most active users of these services were the people aged 16 to 24 years (37.5 per cent), followed by those aged 25 to 34 years (35.5 per cent). Only 11.8 per cent of the individuals aged 65 and over used storage space on the internet.

In 2017, the share of individuals who bought or ordered goods or services for private use over the internet reached 17.7 per cent.

Most active in online shopping were individuals in age groups 16 - 24 and 25 - 34 years with relative shares respectively 30.9 per cent and 33.9 per cent, and only 1.0 per cent of individuals aged 65 - 74 years purchased online. Women were more active in online shopping than men - respectively 18.4 per cent and 17 per cent.

Clothes and sport goods were purchased most often online, as 73.3 per cent of internet buyers purchased such goods, followed by orders of household goods (30.5 per cent) and orders related to travel arrangements and accommodation (20.4 per cent).

Most goods and services were bought from sellers from Bulgaria (87.5 per cent), but many people purchased from sellers from other European countries (34.6 per cent) or from countries outside the EU - 16.2 per cent. Mainly physical goods (85.7 per cent) and travel, accommodation or holiday arrangements (25.3 per cent) were bought from abroad. In the last three months before the survey most of the individuals purchased goods or services once or twice (62.8 per cent) and the total amount of purchases was less than 200 leva.

Despite the wide spread of digital technologies in our daily life, almost three quarters of the individuals have never purchased online. Seventy-five per cent of them preferred to shop in person, had loyalty to shops or just by force of habit.

About15.5 per cent lacked of skills or knowledge, and 10.9 per cent had security or privacy concerns. Not a few individuals were concerned about receiving or returning goods and complaint (9.3 per cent) or did not have a payment card allowing to pay over the internet - 8.2 per cent.

The results of the 2017 survey showed that 96.7 per cent of the enterprises with 10 or more people employed used computers , as among the big enterprises with 250 and more people employed the relative share was 100 per cent.

High-speed and reliable internet access is a basic necessity for the enterprises and during the current year 94.6 per cent of them had permanent connection with the global network. The enterprises mainly used DSL or other type fixed broadband connection (80.7 per cent), and 51.4 per cent of them used mobile broadband connection.

The results of the survey showed that 94.9 per cent of the enterprises using fixed broadband connection considered its speed as usually sufficient for the actual needs of the enterprise and more than a half of them had a connection with maximum download speed more than 30 Mbps.

In 2017, 30.2 per cent of people employed used a computer every day for executing their work duties and 26.7 per cent were granted access to the internet. More and more enterprises provided their employed people with portable devices and during this year 10.5 per cent of the employed used portable devices for business purposes, which was 1.9 percentage points more in comparison to the previous year.

More than a half of the enterprises (50.8 per cent) maintained their own website, the highest proportion was in the group of enterprises with 250 and more people employed (84.7 per cent). Websites were mainly used for presenting goods or services (80.0 per cent) , links or references to the enterprise's social media profiles (34.2 per cent), as well as offered possibility for online ordering or reservations of goods or services (26.2 per cent).

Most actively imposed their presence in the global network the enterprises in sectors ‘Information and communication’ (88.8 per cent) and ‘Professional, scientific and technical activities’ (76.8 per cent), and least enterprises took advantage of this functionality in sector ‘Real estate activities’ - 32.8 per cent.

In 2017, 34.4 per cent of the enterprises used social media to develop their business activity and enlarge their internet presence. Most popular were social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Google+, DotBulgaria, and 47.5 per cent of the enterprises with 250 and more people employed maintained a profile on a social network.

Large companies were the most active in the use of multimedia content sharing websites like VBox7, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, SlideShare, with relative share of 20 per cent while among the small enterprises with 10 - 49 people employed the relative share was only 6.7 per cent.

Main purposes for which the enterprises used social media were to develop the enterprise's image or market products (e.g. advertising or launching products, etc.) (71.7 per cent)1 , to obtain or respond to customer opinions, reviews, questions (61.2 per cent) and to collaborate with business partners or other organizations (36.7 per cent). Enterprises, which involve customers in development or innovation of goods or services, had the smallest relative share (17.3 per cent).

In 2017, 8.0 per cent of the enterprises took advantage of the benefits of cloud technologies to optimize their business processes, as main users of the cloud computing services were large enterprises with 250 and more people employed (28.6 per cent). Main purpose for which the enterprises used the cloud solutions were e-mail services (72.7 per cent), storage of files (67.6 per cent) and hosting of database(s) (57 per cent).

In 2017, every fifth enterprise (19.2 per cent) had employees for whom the main job was to develop, operate or maintain ICT systems or applications.

Large companies with 250 or more people employed offered most jobs for ICT specialists (63.4 per cent), while among the small enterprises with 10 - 49 people employed the relative share was only 15.6 per cent. E-skills are mandatory for the workers but only 8.9 per cent of the employers provided some kind of training to improve the qualification of the employees in the ICT area.

During the previous calendar year, 8.1 per cent of the enterprises recruited or tried to recruit ICT specialists and 48.2 per cent of them had difficulties to fill the vacancies.../IBNA

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