Despite new regulations, telecoms in Belgium remain expensive

Despite new regulations, telecoms in Belgium remain expensive
© Proximus

The measures taken since 2018 to better regulate the Belgian telecommunications market have led to more choices and better prices for consumers, but prices are still higher than abroad, according to telecom regulator BIPT.

In 2018, telecom media regulators noted a lack of competition in the market for access to the internet, television and bundled offers. This leads to a high market concentration among the largest operators (Proximus, Telenet and VOO) and prices were rising faster in Belgium than abroad.

Various regulatory measures were introduced to counteract this: wholesale tariffs for access to fixed networks were lowered, new fibre optic networks were opened up to competing companies, and alternative operators were also given more opportunities.

"Those measures have borne fruit," BIPT stated in a new report on Monday. "The market concentration has decreased, mainly due to Orange's breakthrough... The telecom price index now rises less quickly than the general price index."

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In 2018, the price for a bundle with internet, TV and 5GB of mobile data still fluctuated a lot depending on the operator. Today, prices are far more closely grouped around the cheapest option.

The regulator also states that the market has become more dynamic with a far greater choice of operators, allowing consumers to choose a bundle that better suits their needs. Still, some major obstacles remain as telecom services in Belgium are expensive compared to neighbouring countries. These comparatively high rates are felt especially by those who have a large data usage.

"Although Belgium can, for certain profiles, be quite cheap or approach the level of neighbouring countries, telecoms generally become significantly more expensive than neighbouring countries when the user's needs increase."

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