Belgian spectrum auction delay forces BIPT to act

BIPT, the Belgian regulator, awarded provisional licences until the distribution of spectrum user rights in the long-planned spectrum auction. Five operators thus got an opportunity to launch 5G networks even before the award of standard long-term licences.

Upcoming Belgian spectrum auction

The Belgian government announced a 5G auction back in 2018. The original plan was to organise one or several multi-band awards in the course of 2019. BIPT intended to auction several bands, including 700MHz, 900Mhz, 1800MHz, 1400MHz, 2100MHz, 2600MHz and 3600Mhz. In the course of the preparation, Specure customised their auction software to comply with the Belgium law and, in particular, the king’s decrees related to the upcoming auction procedures.

However, the date of the auction procedure was postponed to 2020, or even later. There is still no specific date set. One of the reasons of the delay is that for a long time, there was no federal government in place. And now the auction got stuck on a disagreement between the federal and the regional government about the distribution of proceeds from the auction. Therefore, the regulator decided in January 2020 that it would award temporary licences. These would remain valid until the Belgian spectrum auction will have taken place. This measure should also help overcome the problem with expiration of existing 2G and 3G licences, which is due in 2021.

Award of temporary licenses

The regulator distributed a total of 200 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band. As there were five candidates, each could gain 40 MHz.

On 14 July 2020, BIPT awarded temporary 5G user rights to five operators:

They should deploy networks in the band for commercial use until the end of 2020.

In between, Entropia decided to renounce those temporary rights of use. Therefore, on 13 October 2020, BIPT decided on a reorganisation of the temporary user rights in the 3600-3800 MHz frequency band.

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