The Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) has unlawfully closed public consultations on the allocation of frequencies for 5G and must resume them. This was decided by the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) on March 13, 2023, as a result of a complaint filed by “Mobile Alternative Communications” JSC (MAK).
“The decision is extremely important. It shows that the state, in the form of the judiciary, ensures that the procedures for granting resources – exclusive state property – are legally supported and protect the interests of the Bulgarian consumer”, commented Neven Dilkov, executive director of Netera. The company was among the founders of MAK in 2017, together with Telekabel, Scat, Net1 and Telesim. The main objective of the company is to create a Mobile Alternative Operator (MVNO).
“Allowing competition in the networks of mobile operators through the creation of virtual mobile operators will lead to lower prices and better quality services not only in mobile but also in fixed telecommunications services and will create new prospects for dozens of small and medium-sized cable operators in Bulgaria”, said Angel Vassilev – founder and executive director of Telekabel.
Bulgaria has historically been one of the countries with the best internet in the world thanks to the high competition of many telecommunications operators who have developed their networks. However, in the last 10 years, the logical process of consolidation and the entry of mobile operators into the market of fixed services in the home, which include Internet and TV, has led to a sharp decrease in the number of active operators providing services in the market. As a result, Bulgaria fell in the world rankings for high-quality and cheap internet, said the MAK.
The only telecom services that, according to KRS reports, show serious growth are bundled offers with included mobile services. The prices of these services have been rising continuously for 2 years, which further complicates the situation for the Bulgarian consumer, the company emphasized.
“In order to protect the interest of the Bulgarian consumer, the state and the regulatory authorities must encourage competition in the market by creating the conditions for more companies to provide mobile service through the world-known virtual mobile operators (so-called MVNOs). Bulgaria is the only country in Europe and almost in the whole world where MVNOs do not exist. They are not prohibited in our country, but the mobile operators refuse to allow them in their network”, commented the MAK.
In this regard, MAK AD proposed to KRS, in the organized auction for 5G frequencies in 2021, that as an obligation in the licenses of mobile operators receiving access to 5G frequencies, an obligation to open their networks to alternative mobile operators should be written. The purpose of this is to provide an opportunity for competition that benefits both the market and consumers. This proposal was not taken into account by the regulator, the company recalled.
“We believe that when organizing the new procedure for allocating frequencies for 5G and in the context of rising service prices, KRS will protect the interest of users and create real conditions for the launch of alternative mobile operators in Bulgaria as well. The promotion of the sharing economy will lead to a favorable development of the entire market – lower prices for consumers, lower costs for businesses (including mobile operators), a more sustainable economy of the country”, the MAK also said in a statement to the media.