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Proximus and Ethias confirm joint venture to deploy fibre in German-speaking region

30 Sep 2022

Belgian full-service provider Proximus has finalised its public-private partnership with insurance group Ethias and the federal government of the country’s German-speaking Community to deploy fibre throughout the region within the next four years. Under the agreement, first announced in May, almost 40,000 homes and businesses in nine municipalities, including so-called ‘white zones’ in underserved rural areas, will be covered by an open access fibre network between 2023 and 2026, starting with La Calamine and Ambleve.

The agreement, Belgium’s first public-private partnership for fibre deployment, paves the way for the creation of a new company called ‘Glasfaser Ostbelgie’, based in Eupen, which will oversee the rollout using local companies as much as possible. It will be jointly controlled by Ethias (50% plus one share) and Proximus (50% minus two shares), while the German-speaking Community (one share) will be present to guarantee the public interests of the company.

While Proximus’ fibre deployment has previously been focused on cities, the company notes the financing provided by Ethias and a potential EUR40 million (USD39 million) in subsidies from the German-speaking Community (supported by funds from the European recovery plan) will enable it to extend coverage to more rural areas. The operator believes this project could reduce the number of underserved ‘white zones’ in Belgium by 15%, in line with the Belgian government’s targets.

Commenting on the deal, Proximus CEO Guillaume Boutin said: ‘I am convinced that it is only by working with public-private partnerships such as this one that Proximus will be able to cover the whole of Belgium with a gigabit network. I also hope that the example of the German-speaking Community will inspire other public authorities to opt for similar partnerships in the years to come.’

Belgium, Proximus

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