Bulgaria has signed a 5G security declaration with the United States in a bid to protect its communications networks.
According to Reuters, Bulgaria has joined the U.S. State Department’s Clean Network initiative, which says it seeks to eliminate “long-term threats to data privacy, security, and human rights posed to the free world from authoritarian malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party”.
Keith Krach, U.S. undersecretary for economic affairs, said: “Bulgaria is in a [sic] good company. As a member of the NATO Alliance it now joins 27 of the 30 NATO member states as a member of the Clean Network.”
TeleGeography notes that the US government spearheaded the Clean Network initiative in August 2020 in a bid to “protect America’s critical telecommunications and technology infrastructure.” The US embassy in Sofia stated that Bulgaria is joining a “growing coalition of countries and companies committed to protecting their 5G networks from untrusted vendors.”
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stated that the declaration would better position the country to deal with challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic by protecting the economy and society of all signatories with “clean, protected, transparent, ethical” communications in line with national law and data security safeguards.
Bulgaria’s regional neighbours the Republic of Kosovo, North Macedonia and Slovenia have all signed 5G security agreements with the US. Bulgaria has not yet held a 5G auction but is expected to in the first half of 2021, with Borissov pledging fair competition and transparency in line with European Union recommendations.
Borissov made no reference to whether the declaration would impact the choice of vendors available to Bulgaria’s operators, but Washington has for years urged its allies to shun network equipment from Chinese vendors such as ZTE and Huawei, particularly for their 5G build-outs.