Belgium postpones 5G spectrum auction to 2020 or later

News

The Belgian 5G auction scheduled for this year has been postponed untll 2020 or maybe later, according to the Minister for Telecommunications, Philippe De Backer.

Previously the Belgian government had said the auction would take place during this year, probably late spring. Although no date was specified, it published the full text of its proposal to auction 20-year  licences for frequencies in the 700MHz, 1400MHz and 3600MHz bands.

The proposal also included the opportunity for a fourth mobile operator to enter the Belgian market. Under this proposal, the existing three – Proximus, Orange and Telenet – would be obliged to provide the new entrant with national roaming.

Further, the proposal confirmed that the auction is to cover the renewals of existing spectrum licences for 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2600 MHz bands which run out in March 2021.

De Backer's statement implied the date could be even later than 2020, and said the delay had been caused by the failure of the Regional Government Consultative Committee not being able to reach consensus on how the proceeds from the auction should be allocated. The government expects to raise some €680 million from the auction.

Putting off the inevitable

Apparently the Consultative Committee is to hold a consultation in February in which it is hoped some agreement can be reached ahead of the country's federal elections in May.

Interestingly despite the delay, mobile operators Orange, Proximum and Telenet have not made any changes to their 5G launch plans. Here Orange leads the charge with plans to roll out 5G commercially in Brussels in 2020, with the other two intending to launch commercial services the year after.