BTC and Orbitel decline WiMAX licences; MobilTel to pick up spare concession

6 Dec 2005

Fixed line operator Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Bulgarian alternative telco Orbitel have both decided to turn down the point-to-multipoint (PT2MP) wireless licences that they won in a public tender in late October. According to Orbitel, quoting research findings published by the WiMAX Forum, the 3.5GHz frequency freed up by the Bulgarian government for the broadband wireless licences is only suitable for providing an alternative to wireline last mile connections, and not for providing mobile WiMAX services; the WiMAX Forum recommends lower frequencies for mobile services. Explaining its reasons for the u-turn, BTC said: ‘an analysis of the auction procedure led to doubts about nonconformities.’ It also said that its decision was affected by recent reforms in the telecoms market and the successful launch of its GSM mobile division, VivaTel.

BTC, Orbitel and VoIP provider Nexcom won ten-year PT2MP concessions with bids of BGL6.2 million (USD3.8 million) each, beating offers from Bulgaria’s largest mobile operator, MobilTel, and telcos Carrier BG and GiTy-Bulgaria. The three ‘Class B’ licences include a limited wireless spectrum allocation of 2×10.5MHz in the 3.5GHz frequency range. The auction reached a higher price than a government tender, held earlier in October, for two higher capacity PT2MP concessions, won by Bulgaria’s Transtelecom and cable TV operator Cablenet at a cost of BGL5 million each. The country’s regulator, the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), intends to offer one of the spare licences to MobilTel.