Reuters is reporting that the Belgian government has decided to move forward with the sale of a fourth mobile operator licence this year in a bid to spur competition in the sector. Should the proposals move forward as intended, a new operator could begin commercial operations in 2010. A public consultation will now begin, and legislation is expected to be updated before the summer. Whilst the government has not set out any conditions for the auction process yet, it is understood that it hopes to raise at least EUR40 million (USD54 million). Possible interested bidders reportedly include Telenet, a Flanders-based cable operator, along with Voo, Telenet’s counterpart in the French-speaking Wallonia region. Both telcos already have MVNO agreements in their respective areas of operation, and the two operators could make individual bids for the new licence, or may consider a joint submission. Existing operators will be barred from entering the bidding process for the new concession.
Additionally, according to the Economy Ministry a range of frequencies for both GSM and UMTS services will also be auctioned before the end of the year; 5MHz of spectrum in the 2.1GHz range, suitable for 3G services, and a further 5MHz in the 900MHz GSM band are to be made available.