Belgian operator Proximus hit out at the government’s decision to open up an upcoming spectrum auction in the country to a fourth mobile operator, stating the move will affect network quality and profitability in the market.
Market leader Proximus said in a statement that it regretted the government’s decision, which will enable a fourth mobile operator to bid for spectrum in an auction planned for next year “on disruptive terms”.
“This will indeed reduce prices for the consumer in the short term, but will also immediately affect the quality of the network and the profitability of the sector,” added Proximus. “This will inevitably put pressure on network investments and employment in the Belgian telecommunications sector.”
The Belgian government published a report earlier this month, outlining the impact of a fourth potential mobile operator, which will compete with current players Proximus, Orange and Telenet-owned Base (Telenet).
Belgium is a relatively small European country with a population of 11.5 million. Mobile penetration stands at 90 per cent according to GSMA Intelligence.
In the report, commissioned by the country’s minister for telecoms and deputy prime minister Alexander De Croo, it was revealed that there was interest to enter the market, although it is not yet clear which operators could be in the running.
De Croo first revealed his aim to earmark 5G-suitable spectrum – in the 700MHz, 1400MHz and 3600MHz bands – for a new player last month. He said that by creating space for a new operator, it was ensuring “extra investments, stronger price competition and lower prices for the consumer”.