Belgian consultation committee approves draft law for 5G auction

28 May 2021

The Belgian Consultation Committee, which brings together representatives from the country’s federal and regional governments, has approved draft legislation that would enable the country’s long-delayed 5G spectrum auction to be staged in early 2022, reports Le Soir. The royal decrees will now be put to a vote in parliament and then submitted to the State Council for consultation. The draft leaves room for a fourth mobile network operator in the market but no decision has yet been taken about whether to reserve spectrum for a new entrant, a spokesperson for Telecom Minister Petra De Sutter said. The Consultation Committee is expected to make a final decision at another meeting before the summer recess. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, B2B wireless connectivity provider Citymesh announced last week that it plans to apply for the entire spectrum package reserved for a fourth operator in the auction, confirming its ambition to compete in the consumer market.

Commenting on the latest development, Minister Petra De Sutter expressed her satisfaction that progress has been made concerning the 5G auction. ‘This is an important issue for our country and Europe, because the deployment of 5G also has a direct effect on the Belgian recovery plan after the coronavirus crisis,’ she said. ‘The importance is therefore enormous both for our companies and for our consumers.’

Belgium’s plans for a 5G spectrum auction have been at an impasse for years due to a disagreement between federal and regional governments over how to distribute the revenue raised by the auction, which could yield more than EUR800 million (USD975.5 million). Under the minister’s proposal, the funds will be held in escrow until the regions have reached an agreement.