Belgium’s telecoms regulator has announced that it will back plans to issue temporary licences for 5G spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, while the country waits to see how it will reallocate existing 2G and 3G licences due to expire in 2021.
“In order to allow an initial roll-out of 5G in Belgium and to ensure the continuity of the service provision for current 2G and 3G licence holders, the BIPT proposes different solutions. It wants to be able to renew the 2G and 3G user rights once the licence will have expired in 2021 as well, until new user rights can be granted. Pending a political agreement between the Federal Government and the federal entities, the BIPT suggests using temporary user rights for the introduction of the new 5G technology,” the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications said in an online statement.
The BIPT had initially planned to hold a spectrum auction in March 2021, lumping the 3.5GHz spectrum in with other blocks which were due to expire (namely radio waves in the 900MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,100MHz bands). However, doing so would mean delaying any 5G launch until after that date.
Belgium is bound by EU law to begin distributing licences for 5G by the 1st July 2020, for spectrum in the 700MHz band, and a deadline of the 31st December 2020 for the C-Band (3.5GHz) spectrum.
Belgium’s 12 million mobile subscribers are served by three mobile network operators, namely Proximus, Orange and Telenet, all of whom will be eagerly awaiting the allocation of spectrum so that they can begin planning their 5G launches in earnest.