Belgium’s three incumbent operators – Proximus, Mobistar and Base – snagged three 4G licences that only generated €120 million per bidder.
The outcome is in strong contrast to the result in the smaller Austrian market which raised more than €2 billion in an auction at the end of October.
However, in Belgium the three companies faced no competitors in the auction for 800 MHz which was completed in the course of one day for the minimum price set by the country’s regulator BIPT.
Each licence carries 2 x 10 MHz for a 20-year period.
In fact, two of the three operators have actually already launched 4G services. First up was Proximus which debuted its service at the end of 2012. It already holds 1.8 GHz and 2.6 GHz frequencies, in addition to the newly acquired 800 MHz.
Meanwhile, Base has just launched its 4G service in October using 1.8 GHz frequencies. It also has 2.6 GHz spectrum.
The third operator Mobistar has announced plans to launch 4G at the start of 2014.
The three operators’ coverage obligations with the 800 MHz frequencies include 30 per cent population coverage after two years, with an obligation to reach 70 per cent after four years and 98 per cent after six years.
In addition, Mobistar has acquired the band which brings an additional obligation to cover 98 per cent of the total population in those municipalities where no operator has satisfactory 3G coverage at present. It must deliver this coverage within three years.
Because 800 MHz is particularly suitable for indoor and rural coverage, the country’s regulator BIPT added this requirement for hard-to-reach communities.