Telecom operators divided on ‘hasty’ solution for 5G licences in Belgium
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    Telecom operators divided on ‘hasty’ solution for 5G licences in Belgium

    Proximus has rolled out a 5G light network. Credit: Belga

    The telecom operators do not agree on the provisional solution that has been worked out to introduce 5G in Belgium, despite the political disagreements.

    The auctioning of the 5G spectrum, which is necessary to implement the new mobile internet technology, is delayed by political disagreements on the distribution of the proceeds, but the industry is putting pressure on the country to proceed quickly.

    As a solution, BIPT, the Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunications, proposed an arrangement whereby provisional rights will be granted, pending a political agreement, reports De Tijd.

    Proximus, the biggest operator in Belgium, is in favour of the arrangement. “The granting of provisional licenses is a step forward that would allow us to continue our mobile strategy,” the company said, reports Het Nieuwsblad. Proximus, which has a strong position in the business market, previously expressed its intention to start with 5G as soon as possible.

    Telenet, on the other hand, is satisfied that the BIPT arrangement also includes the extension of the old 2G and 3G licences, which expire in March 2021. Telenet considers it only “logical to avoid an uncertain situation,” the company said. With regard to 5G, Telenet said that it had already proposed the BIPT solution itself, but has yet to examine the proposal in detail. Telenet does point out that there are still problems, such as the strict radiation standards in Brussels.

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    Orange, however, which is already testing 5G in the Antwerp port area, seems less enthusiastic, and is not in favour of a “hasty” granting of national and temporary licences “which offer only limited bandwidth, do not meet the needs of the industry, and could hamper the upcoming auctions for 5G,” reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

    Additionally, it points to the significant investment that will be required for 5G, and advocates a long-term perspective procedure. Orange also cites the high radiation standards as a problem.

    “Together with BIPT, I have worked on this solution. I am very pleased that the political blockade has now been resolved,” said Philippe De Backer, the Minister of Telecom, adding that he is looking into whether initiatives can be taken to resolve the discussion with the Regions at the consultation committee.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times