SPOTLIGHT ON: Republic of Bulgaria
By Todov Dragostinov

In spectrum management, the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport and Communications is guided, above all, by the economic and political importance of the radio spectrum. The Ministry realizes that the radio spectrum is increasingly becoming a scarce resource making spectrum management crucial. Bulgaria follows the European Commission Green Paper on Radio Spectrum Policy, of December 9, 1998, whose key aspects of spectrum management are:

The Bulgarian Spectrum Management Process

The Bulgarian activities of strategic spectrum planning, allocation, and harmonization to satisfy the spectrum requirements of the civilian sector and the national defense and security fall within the authority of the National Radio Frequency Spectrum Council (NRFSC). The NRFSC was established by the Council of Ministers as a body to exert the State's sovereign rights over the radio frequency spectrum and the geostationary orbital positions, following international agreements. The NRFSC includes two representatives from each of the following departments: State Telecommunications Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Home Affairs. The Chairman of the NRFSC is appointed by the Council of Ministers for a term of four years. The chairman of the NRFSC is Mr. Plamen Petrov, Minister of Transport and Communications.

One important activity of the NRFSC is the development of the National Plan for Frequency Spectrum Allocations. The first National Plan for Frequency Spectrum Allocation for civil and national defense and security needs, as well as for shared use between them, was issued in March 1999. Subsequently, the national plan has been updated four times to accommodate new systems and technologies and to harmonize it with the allocation table of the ITU Radio Regulations. A recent update of the national plan harmonized it with the allocations of the European Conference of the Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT) Administrations and the ITU Radio Regulations following the ITU changes of WRC-2000.

The State Telecommunications Commission regulates and controls the telecommunications activities. It consists of five members, including chairman and deputy chairman. The members of the State Telecommunications Commission are selected by the Council of Ministers and are appointed by the Prime Minister for seven-year terms. The chairman of the State Telecommunications Commission is Mr. Ivan Taushanov.

The individual spectrum users are authorized to provide public services by means of licenses issued by the State Telecommunications Commission. Type approval rules govern the radio equipment that is marketed and used. By the end of 2001, ordinances will be developed on conformity assessment for electromagnetic compatibility and on terminal radio and telecommunications equipment, based on Directive 89/336/EEC and Directive 99/05/EEC, issued by the European Economic Commission.

In its endeavors for coordinated usage of the radio spectrum, the Bulgarian national government adheres to the recommendations of the CEPT and the decisions of the European Radiocommunication Committee (ERC). At the latest WRC-2000, the Bulgarian administration backed nearly all the European Common Proposals on the conference agenda.

Main Spectrum Issues in Bulgaria

Terrestrial mobile and satellite communications are the most dynamically developing sectors of telecommunications. In coordination with the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense, additional GSM cellular frequency bands were released in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz ranges, and frequency bands were allocated for the needs of various terrestrial and satellite services. A time schedule was prepared for the provision of a frequency resource by 2004 for the needs of the digital cellular mobile networks. The schedule calls for the full release of two 25 MHz segments in the 900 MHz range, and two 75 MHz segments in the 1800 MHz range. This will ensure the licensing of more operators depending on the marketplace needs, with their frequency resources coming from the two frequency ranges. The funding for the refarming of the frequency bands is expected to be redeemed by the initial license fees and the annual fees collected for the use of the frequency resource from the operators.

The total of 230 MHz for the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) or 3G, identified at WARC-92, is not yet released in Bulgaria. Thus, Bulgaria believes that it is too early to plan the release of the additional frequency bands identified by WRC-2000. Planning for additional bands for 3G mobile services will probably not occur until 2006. Bulgaria considers it reasonable to make a time schedule for a phased release of frequency bands for UMTS. As a first priority, Bulgaria believes that a minimum of two 10 MHz frequency blocks in the 1920-1980 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz bands should be found. Additional work is necessary to develop the regulatory framework and the standardization at a European level.

WRC-2000 also adopted the replanning of the broadcasting-satellite service for Regions 1 and 3. Bulgaria is developing a new strategy for the efficient use of the 10 digital satellite channels allocated to Bulgaria at orbital position 1.2 degrees West, together with Cyprus, Greece, and the Vatican City.

Summary

As you can see, Bulgaria has a high priority on bringing its radio spectrum policies and plans in line with Europe and the world. The chances for success in this respect before the year of the planned accession of Bulgaria to the European Union will be greatly enhanced if efficient ways of raising financial resources, both domestic and foreign, are found for the compensation of the frequency refarming.


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