Belgian mobile operator BASE, a wholly owned subsidiary of Netherlands-based KPN Mobile, has revealed that, having reached the regulatory target of 50% network population coverage as far back as 2007, it expects to launch commercial 3G services by the end of 2009. In the first phase of its rollout the cellco is expected to launch its HSPA network in major cities, and will then extend to secondary cities across the country. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, BASE paid EUR150 million for its 3G licence in March 2001 and by May 2008 had deployed a total of 276 3G base stations with potential coverage of 50% of the population. The cellco has blamed launch delays on difficulties getting permits for the construction of new network towers and its inability to share equipment sites with rivals Proximus and Mobistar.
The operator has also released financial results for the first three months of 2009, reporting a 7.3% year-on-year increase in revenue to EUR161 million (USD209 million). The operator said that the growth was a result of its increased customer base and high traffic related revenues. The operator added 52,000 subscribers in the three-month period, lower than previous quarters as a result of a clean-up of its customer database which saw it remove 93,000 inactive pre-paid SIMS. At the end of March 2009 BASE had 3.497 million subscribers.