Belgium’s Federal Council of Ministers officially launched on 30 April a national plan for fixed and mobile broadband which aims to eliminate the remaining ‘white zones’ where high speed services are unavailable. Telecom Minister Petra De Sutter explained that some 138,000 households are still unable to access high speed broadband, and that the issue must be addressed if Belgium is to achieve an EU target for all homes to have access to download speeds of 100Mbps by 2025 and 1Gbps by 2030.
‘Achieving digital transformation, which is also part of the green transition, will be essential. However, we must ensure that no one is left behind,’ stressed Minister De Sutter. ‘For the moment, too many of our fellow citizens do not have fast internet. Every month, mayors from remote municipalities or parliamentarians ask me questions about this, and rightly so, because each of us has the right to access a quality internet. This is all the more true as in the future teleworking and remote learning will be increasingly common.’
Under the plan, every white zone – estimated to be around 2% of territory – will be mapped as a first step to facilitating the deployment of high speed services, for example by stimulating investment by operators. In addition, a special government unit with responsibility for implementing the plan and monitoring progress will be set up, while a ‘Broadband Competence Office’ will also be established to deal with all relevant issues relating to 5G and support implementation of the EU Connectivity Toolbox. The government will determine an exact budget for the plan at a later date.