The mobile arm of Belgian fixed line operator Belgacom has begun testing its third-generation (3G) network and says it plans to launch commercial services by 2005 at the latest. Under the terms of its 3G concession Belgacom Mobile, which offers 2G services under the Proximus banner, is not required to begin pilot transmissions until 15 September 2003, with 30% coverage of the population mandated by the start of 2006. Belgacom Mobile received its licence in March 2001 after paying EUR150.2 million in the government auction which also saw concessions awarded to KPN Mobile and Mobistar.
In addition to testing 3G applications such as video telephony, video streaming and video messaging, Belgacom spent the first six months of 2003 upgrading its GSM/GPRS network. It claims to have invested EUR65 million to develop a range of new applications including Geo, allowing users to retrieve information about their current location, and multimedia messaging services. At the end of June 2003 Belgacom Mobile had 4.16 million customers, up from 4.09 million six months previously.