Belgian full-service telecom operator Telenet has announced plans to begin deploying its mobile 5G network from 6 December, starting around Leuven, Antwerp and the coast. Customers with a 5G smartphone and a ONE, ONE Up (consumer), Klik or King & Kong (business) subscription will be able to access the new network at no additional cost, with all other mobile plans following in the spring of 2022. Telenet, which has partnered with both Nokia and Ericsson for its 5G deployment, will significantly expand coverage to the major Flemish cities and along motorways during 2022 and expects the entirety of its network to be upgraded to 5G by 2025. The company claims customers will be able to access data transfer rates of up to 150Mbps with a ONE subscription and 1Gbps on its other plans.
For the initial rollout, Telenet is using the temporary 3.6GHz spectrum licence granted by the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) in the summer of 2020, although it warns the high frequency band’s shorter range means coverage ‘will often be limited to smaller areas around the transmission towers’. For the full rollout of 5G with its associated benefits of increased capacity and fast response times, the operator is waiting for the government’s long-delayed spectrum auction, currently scheduled for the second quarter of 2022. However, in anticipation of the auction and to achieve coverage more rapidly, Telenet will also reuse 4G spectrum for 5G at certain locations.
Telenet will become the second commercial 5G operator in Belgium following the activation of Proximus’ network in April 2020. Orange Belgium, meanwhile, has yet to launch commercial services, although it has been using the technology in various private deployments, including at the Port of Antwerp.