Belgium’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Proximus (Belgacom Mobile), is planning to launch its 4G network commercially in the third quarter of 2012, local news outlet Le Soir has claimed. It is suggested that Belgacom will initially make its Long Term Evolution (LTE) services available to customers in eight areas, those being: Liege, Namur, Antwerp, Mons, Waver, Ghent, Leuven, Hasselt and the Haasrode industrial park. The capital Brussels will, however, reportedly miss out on 4G initially, due in part to strict technical restrictions in the city. In place of the introduction of LTE services in Brussels, it has been suggested that the cellco will look to rollout HSPA+ technology.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in June 2011 Belgacom unveiled plans to roll out an LTE network as well as cooperating with the Wi-Fi provider Fon, with the cellco revealing that its plans would support the convergence of fixed and mobile networks, allowing users to switch seamlessly from fixed to mobile internet. At that date the operator confirmed it would use its existing rights in the 1800MHz band to test the LTE network with a limited number of users, in anticipation of a commercial launch when LTE handsets became available. The test network was initially available in Hasselt, Bergen, Waver and Haasrode. More recently, in July 2012 Belgacom revealed that it was expanding the trials of the 4G technology to five more cities, those being: Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven, Liege and Namur. At the same time it confirmed that it expected to launch commercial LTE services by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, having emerged as one of the winning bidders in the regulator BIPT’s November 2011 auction of LTE-suitable spectrum – Belgacom bagged 2×20MHz (2500MHz-2520MHz/2620MHz-2640MHz) for EUR20.22 million (USD25 million) – the operator has also noted that it could roll out 4G services in the 2600MHz band ‘at a later date, if more capacity is needed’.