Proximus and Orange, two competitors in the Belgian telecommunications market, announced plans last week to combine their mobile networks to prepare for the coming of 5G.
The new venture will be owned equally by both companies, and employees in charge of installing both the Orange and Proximus mobile networks will work together. 82 existing jobs at Proximus will be integrated into the deal.
The cost to create a common network is around 140 million euros between 2021 and 2023, according to New Mobility.
The merger is estimated to save Proximus between 35 and 40 million euros starting in 2024 because of lower repair and energy costs. Proximus also said that the deal would reduce energy usage by about 20%, or the equivalent of 10,000 Belgian households.
However, not everyone is thrilled with the new venture. Telecom Minister Philippe de Backer said that he was concerned this merger could lead to a monopoly in Belgium.
"Due to the lack of competition, the deployment of an industrial and commercial network could be very slow and prices very expensive," de Backer said, according to New Mobility.
Flemish telecommunications company Telenet was not part of the agreement. It learned of the merger the same day the as rest of the world. According to New Mobility, Telenet was likely not part of the deal because of its infrastructure. Orange and Proximus both use Huawei for infrastructure while Telenet uses ZTE.
The Brussels Times