Belgium’s deputy prime minister Alexander de Croo revealed his aim to reserve an allocation of 5G-suitable spectrum for a fourth mobile player in a bid to reduce consumer prices and boost competition.
In a statement on his official website, de Croo – who is also minister for telecoms – said the 2019 auction for frequencies earmarked for 5G in the 700MHz, 1400MHz and 3600MHz bands should include an allocation to open the door to a new player.
He added the fact a newcomer would have immediate access to 5G-suitable spectrum would encourage the country’s existing operators to rollout the new technology quickly to compete.
“By creating space for a new, fourth mobile network, we ensure extra investments, stronger price competition and lower prices for the consumer,” de Croo said. “It is now or never for a fourth player on the Belgian mobile market.”
Designing the auction rules to encourage and facilitate a new entrant would be the Belgian authorities’ second major attempt to expand the number of operators in the country to provide competition to Proximus, Orange and Telenet-owned Base.
In 2014, cable companies Telenet and Voo abandoned a joint venture formed to launch mobile services using 3G spectrum acquired from the country’s communications regulator BIPT, stating the launch of services was not possible under current regulations. The spectrum was returned and eventually Telenet acquired Base from KPN.