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New Players in Belgium’s Telecom Sector

Belgium’s telecom sector is getting ready for a major shake up after two new players have finalized their plans to enter the national market. Government officials are praising both initiatives, stating that they have the potential to cut the country’s current prices by as much as 20 percent.

Belgium’s telecom market has been largely dominated by three main service providers over the past few decades – Proximus, Telenet, and Orange. Each holds a relatively sizable share of the sector, with Proximus leading the pack at 40 percent. Neck-and-neck behind it are Base (owned by Telenet) and Orange (formerly Mobistar), which own 27.2 and 25.7 percent respectively. 

The lack of diversity in Belgium’s telecom market has meant less competition and higher costs for consumers. The country’s internet connections are currently among the costliest in Europe, and, in some cases, as much as 30 percent more expensive than those of neighboring countries. Citymesh and Network Research Belgium (NRB) want to change that.

These two new players in the Belgian market are seeking to penetrate its existing bubble by offering consumers an alternative to the big three providers that currently dominate it.

They’ve both bought 5G licenses via a €1.202 billion government auction. Citymesh is acquiring enough spectrum to realistically compete with major players, and NRB is getting the share it needs to get started in the B2B market.

Government officials and industry experts alike are celebrating the initiatives, citing that Belgium’s connectivity landscape has been left inaccessible for too long.

“More competition could be the key to lower telecom prices,” says Federal Telecom Minister Petra De Sutter. “The prices in Belgium for surfing the internet, making phone calls, and watching TV are now among the highest in Europe…this is good for consumers! A new operator can cut prices by up to 20 percent.”

Of course, we don’t have to remind you that 5G connections offer the best speeds available in today’s market. Experts predict that Belgium’s rollout of the technology over the coming months will revolutionize its current connectivity landscape, even to the point where 5G surpasses the speeds of most of the country’s home broadband systems.

De Sutter added that she sees Citymesh and NRB’s recent entry into the market as a “breakthrough” for a country whose digital expansion has been painfully slow over the past few years. After long-standing disputes over revenue distribution between federal and regional governments, progress seems to finally be on the horizon.

In preparation for the upcoming evolution of its telecom sector, Belgium’s government has announced a long-awaited minimum coverage obligation operators will be required to meet with their 5G rollouts. According to officials, rates must reach at least 99.8% in order to reduce the white (or currently unprovided for) areas of the country. Work is already underway to implement new systems, and it’s expected that the public will begin to see changes coming their way in the coming months.

What are your thoughts on these new developments in Belgium? We’d love to hear!