The prospect of a fourth MNO entering the Belgian mobile market became more likely after a potential new entrant applied for a package of reserved spectrum with an eye to offering 5G services.

One of two new entrants the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) cleared to participate in a spectrum auction scheduled for June exercised an option to secure a 30MHz duplex block covering 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G, paying more than €83.3 million, the regulator stated.

The regulator deemed a total of five mobile players as admissible for the auction, without revealing any names.

However, BIPT indirectly confirmed Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet/Base are among the contenders by stating the “three existing mobile operators” also each paid €73 million to obtain spectrum reserved for them “to ensure the continuity of their current service on the mobile market”.

The identity of the new entrant was not disclosed, although Citymesh previously made clear its ambition to become the fourth player. The Belgian B2B services provider joined forces with IT company Cegeka in 2020 and already holds licences in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands. It currently markets B2B mobile services under an MVNO agreement with Proximus.

BIPT explained that in addition to the reserved spectrum, a total of 640MHz is being auctioned in June for a minimum amount of €477 million.

The regulator issued a call for tender for the long-awaited auction in January.

Licences in the 700MHz, 900MHz, 1,400MHz, 1,800MHz, 2.1GHz and 3.6GHz bands will be up for grabs. The 700MHz, 1400MHz and 3.6GHz bands are designated for 5G.