Telecom revenues reached 8.39 billion euros in 2016, an increase of 1.4% compared to the previous year, said the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) on Tuesday. The sector is being stimulated mainly by the consumption of mobile data and digital television and by 2015 telecoms had seen a return to growth after three years of declining revenues.
The Belgian telecoms are indeed stimulated by data. The market penetration of data SIM cards (allowing users to surf the Internet) has risen sharply, from 61.6% of the Belgian population using data in 2015 to 66.3% in 2016. The smartphone is becoming more and more popular even though the country lags behind other European countries like Great Britain. On average, 827 megabytes of data were consumed every month by Belgians, 58% more than in 2015.
“The market penetration of the smartphone in Belgium has been delayed by the prohibition of coupled offers (subscription + smartphone, ed.). The price of mobile data has also remained quite high in Belgium, but it has been falling since 2012. The situation is thus improving but the race started earlier abroad” said Alex Desmedt, member of the board of IBPT.
Digital television was also an important driver in 2016. The total number of subscribers to digital television reached the 4 million mark and represented 90% of the number of TV connections.
Telecom companies also spent 21.9% of their turnover on investments in 2016, i.e. 1.596 billion euros, a record according to BIPT.
The Brussels Times