Telecommunications Sector in Turkey
The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) established for the regulation and supervision of the telecommunication sector as an independent management authority has been in operation since August 2000.
According to the ICTA Market Data report, the number of players in the Turkish electronic communications sector was 676 as of the third quarter of 2015 and the number of authorizations given to these players was 1,108.
While the total volume of mobile traffic in the third quarter of 2015 was 56.4 billion minutes, the amount of fixed traffic was determined to be 2.6 billion minutes. And while the amount of mobile traffic stayed stable quarter-on-quarter, the amount of fixed traffic decreased by about 11.2%. The majority of the traffic (91.9%) was constituted by mobile to mobile traffic.
As a result of the “IMT authorization tender regarding service and infrastructures” held by the ICTA on August 26, 2015 for mobile services to be improved, the frequency assigned to operators was increased from 183.8 MHz to 549.2 MHz. With operators beginning to provide service with IMT-Advanced technology as of April 1, 2016, the speed of mobile broadband internet is aimed to be increased by at least 10-fold.
FIXED LINE MARKET
Fixed line penetration in Turkey decreased by 0.3 points quarter-on-quarter, reaching 15.1% with 11,696,067 fixed telephone subscribers as at the end of the third quarter of 2015.
INTERNET & BROADBAND MARKET
The number of broadband internet subscribers, which was around 6 million in 2008, had exceeded 46.7 million as of the end of the third quarter of 2015. In the third quarter of 2015, there was an increase in internet subscriptions of approximately 5.4% in comparison to the previous three-month term, and the general upward trend in the number of internet subscribers continued with the increase in mobile, cable and fiber internet subscribers. Whereas, the annual rate of increase in the total number of internet subscribers was 17.4%.
In the third quarter of 2015, the number of xDSL subscribers approached 6.9 million and that of fiber subscribers came close to 1.6 million. As of the third quarter of 2015, the total length of the fiber infrastructure of alternative operators had reached 55,393 km.
The total amount of revenue in relation to internet service providers in the third quarter of 2015 was approximately TRY 1.2 billion. Approximately 62% of fixed broadband subscribers in Turkey were seen to prefer packages offering connection of 10-30 Mbit/sec. When we look at internet subscribers’ amount of usage on mobile computers, the percentage of users with over 100 MB usage is understood to be at 82.8%. The percentage of users with the least amount of usage within the range of 0-50 MB was 14.2%. Furthermore, the percentage of subscribers with over 100 MB usage among mobile internet subscribers was 72.5%. The share of service provided with xDSL technology by alternative operators in the broadband industry was at 14.8% as of the third quarter of 2015.
As of the end of September 2015, there were 73,235,783 mobile subscribers corresponding to approximately 94.3% penetration in Turkey. Excluding the population aged 0-9 years, mobile penetration exceeds 100%.
In the third quarter of 2015, 3G subscriber number reached 63,066,580, while 3G mobile broadband subscribers through mobile computer and mobile phones increased to 35,876,101. Total mobile internet usage was at 156,669 TByte in the same period. As of the third quarter of 2015, the number of M2M subscribers had reached 2.9 million; the number of pre-paid broadband subscribers had reached 17,128,083; and the number of post-paid mobile broadband subscribers had reached 20,410,815. When we look at the third three-month term in 2015, pre-paid subscribers were 53% of mobile subscribers, and the percentage of post-paid subscribers rose from 42.9% to 47% on a yearly basis. The percentage of those switching mobile phone carriers within the third three-month term of 2015 declined by 13.7% to 2,651,835. As of November 10, 2015, 87,469,269 subscribers had switched their mobile phone carriers.
As of the third three-month term of 2015, Turkcell had 46.8%, Vodafone had 30.1% and Avea had a 23.2% subscriber market share. As of the third term of 2015, 50.1% of Avea, 47.1% of Turkcell and 44.5% of Vodafone subscribers were post-paid.
When the traffic data of the third three-month term of 2015 is compared to the previous three-month term, the total amount of traffic is seen to have increased by 1.2% and by 7.4% on a yearly basis. Individually, Turkcell’s traffic increased by 2.5%, Vodafone’s traffic climbed by 0.6% and Avea’s traffic rose by 0.1% quarter-onquarter.
In terms of total revenues as of the third quarter term of 2015, the market share of Turkcell is 43.2%, and those of Vodafone and Avea are 35.9% and 20.9%, respectively. Turkcell’s and Vodafone's market shares increased by 0.2 percentage points, while Avea’s market share decreased by 0.4 percentage points, quarter-on-quarter.
As of the third quarter of 2015, the revenue market share of Turkcell was 47.5%, and those of Vodafone and Avea were 30.4% and 22.1%, respectively.
As of the third term of 2015, total number of cable TV subscribers were at 1,156,133 while subscribers of digital cable TV provided under the Teledünya brand stood at 759,341. While there are 26 operators holding cablecast service management authorization, only Türksat is actively in-service.
Companies such as Digital Platform Teknoloji Hizmetleri AŞ (Digitürk), Doğan TV Digital Platform İşletmeciliği AŞ (DSmart), Platformturk Dijital Platform Hizmetleri AŞ (Filbox) and TTNET A.Ş. (Tivibu) are authorized to provide a satellite platform service and are operating actively.
KEY REGULATORY CHANGES IN 2015
The 4.5G Authorization Tender
“The IMT Authorization Tender Regarding Service and Infrastructures” held on August 26, 2015 was approved with decree no. 2015/YKYED/ 390 of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) dated August 27, 2015, and IMT Authorization Documents given to the operators at a ceremony attended by the Turkish President held on October 27, 2015.
The Authorization Document will be valid for 13 years until 2029. In accordance with the spectrum being assigned in a technologically neutral manner, it will be possible to directly apply new technologies to be developed in compliance with IMT standards over the coming years.
After the Authorization Document was signed, an obligation was imposed to supply 30%, 40% and 45% domestic products in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year, respectively. The obligation to make purchases from suppliers and SMEs having Research and Development centers employing numerous employees, which was previously introduced with 3G concession agreements, was retained. Furthermore, the condition that products to be purchased from SMEs must be produced in our country was enforced.
Another obligation stating that 95% of the entire population, and 90% of the entire population on the basis of each city has to be covered within 8 years was also imposed. In addition to these obligations, another obligation specifying that 99% of all highways and high-speed rail lines need to be covered within 3 years, 95% of all divided highways within 6 years and 90% of all conventional railway lines within 10 years was imposed. As these locations can be covered with 4.5G, they can also be covered with 3G if the quality of service specified in the Authorization Document is provided. Inversely, locations requiring coverage with 3G technology in accordance with the 3G concession agreement can be covered with 4.5G technology as well. In addition, a further obligation was imposed for all areas detailed above, to be covered with service quality at a minimum download speed of 2Mbs with 95% probability.
An obligation was imposed for operators to share their access networks with active radio sharing at all of the new antenna facilities to be set up for all residential areas with a population of under 10 thousand, as well as highways, high-speed rail lines, divided highways and conventional railway lines to be covered.
Operators will be able to share networks, which they will be using to provide 4.5G technology and subsequent technologies developed in compliance with IMT standards, with fixed operators with the condition of receiving ICTA consent.
The obligation for operators in the 3G concession agreement to pay 15% of their gross revenue to the treasury was also protected in the IMT Authorization Document. In this context, 15% of gross revenu is to be obtained from all networks to be established with 4.5G and subsequent technologies to be developed in compliance with IMT standards in the future.
The Board Decision Concerning the Maximum Price Tariff
The Maximum Price Tariff for Mobile Electronic Communications Services was updated with ICTA’s Board Decision no. 2015/DKETD/435 valid as of November 1, 2015. While no changes were made to call or SMS costs in the updated tariff, the maximum costs that can be collected in cases of “Name/Title Changes”, “Number Changes” and “Sim Card Changes Due to Loss, Theft, User Error” were reduced, and a decision was made for “SIM Card Changes As Part of Guarantee” processes to be free.
Market Analyses in the Electronic Communications Sector
Market analysis operations, which are performed by the ICTA once every three years at the latest, have been initiated, and these analyses are aimed to be completed within 2016. The conducting of market analyses is expected to foster competition in the sector and a re-evaluation of the obligations introduced to operators having Significant Market Power in related markets. The mobile and fixed markets analyzed within the study are as follows:
- Mobile Access and Call Origination Market,
- Mobile Call Termination Market,
- Fixed Call Termination Market,
- Fixed Call Origination Market,
- Wholesale Broadband Access Market,
- Physical Infrastructure Access Market.
Procedures and Principles Regarding Communicating for Purposes Such As Marketing and Promotion
The Procedures and Principles Regarding Communicating for Purposes Such As Marketing and Promotion were published on August 6, 2015, and the 5th Article, the first paragraph of the 7th Article and the first paragraph of the 9th Article of the Procedures and Principles came into effect as of October 1, 2015, and the other articles came into effect as of May 1, 2015. With the relevant procedures and principles, the communications for marketing and promotion were arranged so as to be carried out without requiring an additional consent when receiving contact information from the subscriber with the same purposes during the establishment of the subscription. Regarding the receiving of content and consent for communication in the Procedures and Principles, ICTA has specified the sample texts and determined that the operators can make contact with their subscribers’ a maximum of twice a year to receive consent.
The directive regarding Making Changes to the Directive Concerning Processing Personal Data and Protecting Confidentiality was cancelled with a Constitutional Court decision, and the annulment decision came into effect on January 26, 2015.
Upon the decision of the Competition Authority, Krea İçerik Hizmetleri ve Prodüksiyon Anonim Şirketi A.Ş. (content provider to Digitürk) was obliged to sub-license the broadcasting rights license of the 2015- 2016 and 2016-2017 Super League football season matches (matches within Package A Broadcasts) from the Turkish Football Federation to other companies.
Directives of the Ministry of Customs and Trade
Directives prepared by the Ministry of Customs and Trade, based on articles no. 6502 “The Law on the Protection of the Consumer” and no. 6563 “The Law on the Arrangement of Electronic Trade” came into effect. Accordingly, the “Directive of Contracts Drawn Outside the Workplace”, “Directive of Subscription Contracts”, “Directive of Distance Contracts” and “Directive of Installment Sales” prepared within the scope of article no. 6502 “The Law on the Protection of the Consumer”, came into effect on April 14, 2015, April 24, 2015, February 27, 2015 and January 14, 2015, respectively. The “Directive on Service Providers and Intermediary Service Providers in Electronic Trade” and the “Directive on Commercial Communication and Commercial Electronic Messages” prepared based upon article no. 6563 “The Law on the Arrangement of Electronic Trade” came into effect on August 26, 2015 and July 15, 2015, respectively.
Licence Application of TÖHAŞ
As per the law no. 6493, Turkcell Ödeme Hizmetleri A.Ş. (TÖHAŞ) has applied the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) in March 2015 to obtain a licence to provide payment services. TÖHAŞ has met the regulatory requirements in full in this regard.