Several Walloon towns push back against 5G roll-out

Several Walloon towns push back against 5G roll-out
A 5G network tower in Wallonia. Credit: Belga

A growing number of towns and cities in Wallonia are pushing back against the roll-out of 5G networks on their territory, which has been underway in Belgium since 1 April.

Telecom operator Proximus announced it was temporarily suspending the deployment of infrastructure in several locations in Wallonia at the request of a number of municipalities and cities.

The announcement comes after the municipality of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve last week got Proximus to halt deployment on its territory pending a public consultation round with residents.

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In a statement on their website, local authorities said a previous enquiry was "unreadable" to citizens because of its overly technical nature, and that it failed to address concerns on the health and environmental impacts of 5G networks.

On Monday, at least five other localities succeeded in getting Proximus to pause deployment operations: Waterloo, Namur, Châtelet, Tournai and Arlon.

Proximus did not immediately reply to a request for comment but said in a statement to the media that it was "aware that certain citizens, mayors and public officials had questions about 5G" which were "absolutely legitimate" and which they were working to resolve.

The company said that the suspension of operations in the Walloon territories concerned was only temporary and that it would allow for talks between the company and both local and regional authorities.

In late March, Proximus announced it would begin rolling out 5G from 1 April, with a number of cities and towns in Belgium already supporting users of the network.

In Brussels, authorities blocked a 5G pilot project on the basis of laws regulating radiation levels, and regional authorities in the capital have previously called for more in-depth data on the impacts of the network before allowing companies to move forward with deployment.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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