Tetra | 2017-12-15

Bulgarian Authorities to Repair a 163 MIO Euro Historic Mistake

Source: Capital

Two state telecom organizations are currently looking for a future of two existing TETRA networks. After investing 163 MIO Euro into these two TETRA networks, the state should decide what to do with them.

At the beginning of the century, the Army and the Ministry of the Interior (and later Sofia Airport), started to build their own TETRA networks. The state allocated over 163 Mio Euro for their construction and maintenance. So far, it has been happening with European funds. 15 years ago, the Bulgarian authorities have made a historic mistake by choosing to order two different systems simultaneously. The state has now to decide how it will develop this key national security infrastructure ir order to strwamline future critical communications.

Currently the MoI works with a EADS TETRA System and the Army with a system that is manufactured by Motorola Solutions. Basically the two networks are incompatible and have a different encryption standard, with the army's lowest possible level.  From a technologic point of view, both networks are now able to integrate, however this requires additional funding.

The MoI network, which is the most developed one, covers the territory of almost the entire country and is also used by other state institutions. The development of the network is made possible thanks to EU funds for the protection of the external borders (hence the best coverage there). The system for the army covers the main military garrisons, the independent military formations, the training rides, the military airports, the naval bases, the majority of motorways and roads from the Republican road network, as well as the coastal and territorial waters of the Black Sea.

The communication challenges of both networks (the Army and the Ministry of Interior) was most clearly seen in a joint border guard operation, where one network (MoI) did have good coverage and the other network did not have coverage at all. In order to continue communications, smartphones needed to be used in order to stay connected between the two differentorgaizations.

Mladen Petrov, who heads the Communications and Information Systems Directorate - explains that in practice the state has to decide whether to opt for integration, which is a "long and costly process" or to continue building the MoI network, with the focus to cover the whole country and strengthening capacity in major cities.

According to preliminary information, the integration of the two networks will cost just as much as necessary to complete the coverage of the MoI network - approximately 25 MIO Euro. When the 'new' network has coverage across the entire country, it will and can be used by all state institutions. A plan for such a plan has been on the public consultation website since July 2015, but there is no movement on it.

According to Petrov, this is a managerial decision he can not comment on, but stresses that a working group has been set up between the two ministries, which examines the financial and technical aspects of the two possible solutions.