Belgian 5G auction not expected before end-2021, early-2022

vrijdag, 20 november 2020 - Categorie: Berichten Belgie

20 nov. 2020

It will be at least a year before a 5G spectrum auction can take place in Belgium, De Tijd reports following an interview with the responsible federal minister, Petra De Sutter. While a new government is in place and the political obstacles have been overcome, a number of legislative and legal steps are still needed to launch the process. The regulator BIPT confirmed the planning.

De Sutter said she was ready to move ahead with the process, despite the sensitivity around 5G in Belgium, especially among voters in her own party, Ecolo. She said it was important the government continues research on potential health effects from 5G, but she would not be the minister that held back 5G and its potential for the economy. The minister added she's ready to engage with the Brussels regional government on adapting its strict emissions caps to allow 5G services in the capital.

The 5G auction has been delayed by divisions between the regions on dividing up the proceeds and the long process of forming a federal government coalition. The BIPT took the interim step of issuing temporary licences for the 3.5 GHz band earlier this year, allowing operators and businesses to start experimenting. The auction will also include the 700 MHz band and re-allocating several existing bands. The minimum proceeds are estimated at EUR 800 million.

The exact prices still need to be set in an amendment to the Telecom Law, and a number of royal decrees are needed to define the terms of the licences and auction. Each step will need around six months, meaning an auction is not likely before the end of 2021 or early 2022.

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