Jackin – stock.adobe.com
The terms of the 5G auction have triggered the leeway of a possible operator who would like to compete with the three owners of a mobile network in Belgium.
This is a major step forward in the 5G deployment file in Belgium. The Council of Ministers approved this Thursday, October 21, 2021 five royal decrees dedicated to the auctioning of 5G frequencies. These texts have been the subject of bitter discussions for months between the federal government and the federated entities (regions, communities). At the center of this ping-pong, the Belgian Institute of Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT), responsible for the drafting.
Among the stumbling blocks: the greater or lesser place to be left to a potential fourth operator called upon to compete with Proximus, Orange and Telenet (Base) on the individual market (B2C, business to consumer), on the margins of the professional market ( B2B, business to business). A fourth B2C operator is the prospect of a more competitive market and falling prices. It is also the risk of impact on the environment and health, via the increase in energy expenditure and wave emissions.
A door that closes a little
In a subtle game of dosage, the royal decrees bought at auction which close a little more than expected, but not completely, the door to a fourth B2C operator. “The specification reservation for a fourth has been reduced because of the generator operators within the framework of the Concertation and Public Consultation Committee”, summarizes the cabinet of the Minister of Telecommunications Petra De Sutter.
“During the previous Concertation Committee”, continues the firm, “It was asked if the block of reserved frequencies was not too large and, therefore, too attractive to encourage a new B2C operator to participate in the auction.”
Still in the Concertation Committee, specifies, BIPT, “Questions were also asked to make the auction more attractive for a B2B operator who would not only want spectrum in the so-called 5G capacity band (the 3600 MHz band) is considering (the 3600 MHz band) to develop especially 5G applications for business sites and major industrial centers (airports and seaports for example), but which would also like to have national coverage (for example via the 700 MHz band) in order to develop the power of national B2B applications in 5G such as, for example, IoT applications (Internet of things) or, for example, eventually, the autonomous vehicle. “
Auctions in the second quarter of 2022
“To respond to these requests”, conclusion BIPT, the telecoms policeman, “The whole spectrum reserved for a possible new B2C operator has been reduced slightly (from 35 to 30 MHz), but the package is still sufficient to be able to operate as a fourth mobile network operator. Likewise, it was decided to give more options to an ambitious B2B operator. Thus, for example, if no new B2C operator were to appear at the auction, a so-called modular system will come into force, allowing one or more B2B operators to obtain reserved spectrum in the 700 MHz and / or 900 frequency bands. MHz, intended for national coverage. “
The modifications to the five 5G royal decrees will be submitted to the Concertation Committee on November 24, 2021. If they take this step, BIPT will be able to start organizing the auctions in concrete terms. Likely end date: second quarter 2022.