Orange and Proximus forced to delay shared 5G network in Belgium

The pair had been due to begin work on a shared 5G network but rival telco Telenet has objected on the grounds that it would reduce competition in the sector
Orange, Proximus, Telenet, Belgium, 5G, Telecoms

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Orange and Proximus have been told to hold fire on their proposed joint venture in Belgium, following a complaint made by a rival operator.

Orange and Proximus had proposed to merge their mobile networks in Belgium, thus helping to share the financial burden of rolling out 5G across the country.

The pair had planned to launch their new, joint-network in 2021 at a shared cost of €140 million.

However, a report in The Brussels Times suggests that Belgium’s other mobile network operator, Telenet, filed an objection to the national competition authority, claiming that the joint venture would lessen competition for consumers.

“The pressure on mobile revenues is prompting all mobile operators to find smart ways to finance the development and maintenance of the new 5G network. Telenet understands why mobile operators - albeit within the limits of what is legally permitted - want to share their mobile networks, but has serious reservations about the very far-reaching manner in which the two biggest mobile players in Belgium - with a joint market share of 75% and a quasi-monopoly in the business segment - want to work together in a joint venture,” Telenet said in an official statement on its website.

Last week, the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) took interim measures against Orange Belgium and Proximus, essentially prohibiting the launch of their joint venture until the 16th March 2020. The delay of the launch will allow the BCA to further investigate the effect that the proposed joint venture would have on prices and choice for Belgian consumers.

 Proximus and Orange Belgium remain adamant that the deal will have a positive effect on the Belgian market, bringing cutting edge 5G networks to Belgium sooner.  

“The sharing agreement for the mobile access network will have positive effects for the customers and for the Belgian society as a whole, in particular a faster and more extensive deployment of 5G, a significant reduction in total energy consumption and an improvement of the global mobile service experience, while maintaining a strong differentiation between the parties on services and customer experience,” Proximus said in an online statement.

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