The sale of new 5G frequency licences, as well as of existing 2G and 3G bands, has netted the state €1.202 billion in revenue, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) announced on 21 June.
In total, five operators have gained the right to access parts of the frequency bands, including the Flemish Citymesh mobile operator, Liège-based Network Research Belgium, and three national carriers, Orange Belgium, Proximus, and Telenet. The companies will be able to use the bands for the next 20 years.
At the start of the main phase of the auction on June 1, the operators jointly made an offer of €899 million for the auctioned radio frequencies. This amount was much higher than legal entry prices set out by Belgian law, with an overbid of around €468.5 million. The mobile operators paid an additional €302 million in order to reserve certain bands.
Currently, only Flanders will be able to benefit from 5G connections due to the fact that antenna emission standards do not currently allow for 5G broadcasts in Wallonia or Brussels.
Wallonia has previously stated that it is moving towards a “controlled” 5G deployment over concerns with radiation rates. In October 2021, the Walloon government ordered a commission to undertake the health impact assessment of the radio frequencies.
Approved later in the month, Wallonia altered its radiation standards to allow for a future roll-out. Likewise, the Brussels region approved higher radiation limits to allow for future roll-out in the capital.
5G connections are up to 100 times faster than existing high-speed 4G connections. It may even end up providing faster internet speeds than some home broadband connections in Belgium.