Flemish government to prioritise regional 5G network

4 Oct 2019

The Flemish government of incoming prime minister Jan Jambon will prioritise the deployment of a regional 5G network, according to the 2019-2024 coalition government agreement published at the end of September. With preparations for Belgium’s multi-band frequency auction subject to significant delay as a result of political wrangling, Flanders is keen to deploy an ‘area-wide 5G network based on an open model of infrastructure sharing whereby all service providers can offer their service on equal terms’, notes the agreement, adding that: ‘To guarantee this model, the Flemish government needs to participate substantially in the operators’ initiatives’.

Flanders envisages earmarking 60MHz of spectrum for regional applications, based on a regional licensing model. That 60MHz spectrum would be in the 3.5GHz band if there is no fourth mobile operator or via network slicing. Otherwise, the spectrum will be allocated in the 3.8GHz band. The plan would give new players the opportunity to purchase spectrum for a specific demarcated area, such as airports, ports, large business parks and city centres. ‘For that, we want to move away from a 20-year allocation period and to more dynamic, short-term allocations that also allow spectrum allocation for specific events, festivals, sporting events or other applications,’ the statement continued. In order to implement the plan, the government notes it is ‘negotiating with the federal government for a considerably higher share in the distribution of the one-off and annual revenues from the auction of the mobile broadband spectrum. This spectrum auction must be separate from the issue of the fourth player.’

The Belgian federal government presented plans in mid-2018 for a multi-band auction that was scheduled for the end of 2019. However, discussions have been delayed by disagreement over how the anticipated EUR680 million (USD745.6 million) raised by the sale would be distributed.