Of the 39 Walloon communes considered to be in a “dead zone” in 2016, all were now connected, although there were still some remaining areas without an internet connection, the Walloon minister responsible for digital affairs, Pierre-Yves Jeholet, announced on Wednesday. The change stems from an agreement reached in December 2016 between the regional minister formerly in charge of the portfolio, Jean-Claude Marcourt (PS), the federal Digital Agenda minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) and the three telecom operators Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet Group.
It brought forward the lowering of tax on masts and pylons in return for an operator investment (20 million euros a year from 2017 to 2019) to support connectivity in the country.
Following an analysis made by the national telecommunications regulator in Belgium (IBPT), 39 communes in the Walloon region were considered to be in a “dead zone.” That meant that fixed network coverage there did not exceed 30 Mbps in over 60% of the area and that 100% of the area did not have 4G in the open.
From then on, the three operators’ coverage provided to the 39 communes concerned reached 100%, whereas the initial objective was to achieve an 85% threshold, according to minister Jeholet (MR).
In terms of coverage expressed as a percentage of the population, the rate attained was 98.35%. In order to identify the small number of remaining dead zones and enable good coordination between communal authorities and operators, the Region has set up the platform Digital Wallonia Connect to report connectivity problems. Its purpose was to become a genuine monitoring dashboard for connectivity in the area, the minister emphasised.