BIPT begins consultation on 800MHz band plans

16 Nov 2012

The Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunications (BIPT) has launched a consultation commissioned by economy minister Vande Lanotte on a bill amending the Electronic Communications Act and a draft royal decree as regards the terms for allocation and use of the 800MHz frequency band. Alongside this, the regulator has also published a study regarding the terms for allocation and use of the band, carried out by an independent external consultant. The plans fall in line with the European Radio Spectrum Policy Programme, which requires member states to designate the 800MHz band for wireless broadband services by 1 January 2013.

The BIPT noted that a number of recommendations had been made in the study it has released, with those including: the number of blocks of spectrum to be auctioned (3×10MHz duplex); population coverage requirements (98% within six years); quality obligations (a compulsory average download speed of 3Mbps); and a minimum entry bid (EUR90 million [USD114 million] per lot for a 15-year period).

The consultation is open until 14 December 2012, following which the BIPT has said it hopes to complete the spectrum allocation before the end of 2013, provided the revised regulations are introduced in due time.

Commenting on the matter, BIPT chairman Luc Hindryckx said: ‘This represents the first step towards the auction of the 800MHz band. It is important for society that 4G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology become more and more prevalent. It is indeed a means to improve the choice of consumers and access in rural or other regions where the introduction of wired broadband is difficult or is not economically viable. It could mean a significant contribution to minimise the digital gap’.