Belgian Regulator Lures Fourth Market Player in 5G Auction

Belgian telecom regulator BIPT wants to attract the fourth mobile operator to the market and in the planned 5G auction offers the most convenient conditions for a newcomer from among all European regulators. Although BIPT Chairman Michel Van Bellinghen in his interview for did not specify the identity of the new player, he said the operator has a proven experience from developed mobile markets and sufficient resources for the entry to the Belgian market.

The main reason why BIPT wants to support the entry of the fourth mobile operator is to stimulate competition. As BIPT Chairman said, the experience from other European countries shows that after the entry of the fourth market player, the prices have dropped.

Czech regulator CTU is also preparing a 5G auction. According to the portal, the Czech and Belgian markets are similar in some aspects, e. g. both markets are served by three operators, the market size is similar with the population of 10.6 million and  11.3 million, respectively, and in terms of prices and data consumption both markets rank at the end of European statistics.

The idea of preparing the 5G auction conditions in such a way that they attract a fourth market player emerged in mid-2017 within the consultation on the prepared auction, when an operator indicated his interest in the entry in the Belgian market, which was then a surprise for BIPT. The three established operators, however, are not open for a discussion on a cooperation with a newcomer.

In the past, BIPT had an experience with operators who gained a spectrum but did not do anything with it and eventually withdrew from the market. Now BIPT believes that the operator, the identity of which, remains undisclosed, will have enough experience and resources to succeed in the Belgian market.

Like in the Czech Republic, in Belgium, too, the average data consumption per user is rather low, approximately 1 GB, which is due to relatively high prices of communications services in both markets. Belgian operator believes the entry of the fourth operator would help to change that through a stronger competition, although one of the reasons for the lagging behind in mobile data traffic is the well-developed fixed network, used as an alternative. BIPT Chairman expects a price decrease after the entry of the fourth operator and refers to the markets e. g. in France with a 27-percent price decrease since 2012, when the fourth operator entered the market; or in the Netherlands with a price decrease by even 51 percent between 2012 and 2018.

The attractivity for the entry of the fourth operator through his participation in the 5G auction shall result from the set of convenient auction conditions, including a reserved part of the spectrum, national roaming until completion of the construction of his own network and a reasonable development criteria, such as temporary exclusion of railway corridors from the coverage obligations. The prepared 5G multi-band auction will offer the wides spectrum portfolio in history – in total six blocks of 5 to 15 MHz in the bands 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.4 GHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz.

Published on: January 18, 2019

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