Summary of broadband development in Belgium
Digital Belgium 2015–2020 outlines the digital vision for Belgium based on five priorities, with Digital infrastructure being one of them.
National and regional broadband strategy and policy
- The Minister of the Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, in charge of Administrative Simplification, Prevention of Social Security Fraud, the Protection of Privacy and the North Sea, is responsible for issues concerning the Digital Agenda and Telecom.
- The FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy is the federal public service in charge of the economic policy in Belgium. Through its Directorate-General for Economic Regulation (Division Telecommunication and Information Society), the FPS supports the Belgian telecommunication sector in developing and implementing regulations and in stimulating innovation.
- The Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunications (BIPT) is the regulator for electronic communications. It has among others the task to promote competition, to contribute to the development of the internal market and to protect the users' interests. BIPT is involved in many aspects of the national broadband strategy. It especially gathers, analyses and presents information on the supply of broadband services, in order to stimulate the roll out of broadband networks and to identify the remaining white areas.
- Wallonia: the Agence du Numérique (AdN) is a limited liability company under public law, in charge of ICT development in Wallonia. The Agence du Numérique is in charge of putting into operation the strategy for Digital Wallonia 2019-2024, set up by the Walloon government to fill the gap in digital development -including broadband networks- and help the region in its digital transformation.
Main aims for broadband development
Digital Belgium 2015–2020 states that by 2020 at least half of the connections in Belgium must achieve Internet speeds of 1 Gbps. Mobile broadband technologies must be rolled out as soon as possible across the entire Belgian territory. Moreover, a proactive 5G framework needs to be created to ensure Belgium is in the lead for stimulating the Internet of Things.
Digital Belgium 2015–2020 sets five priorities:
- Digital infrastructure,
- Digital confidence and digital security,
- Digital government,
- Digital economy, and
- Digital skills and jobs.
New coverage maps for fixed broadband and mobile broadband were made available to identify the areas where a high-performance infrastructure is not yet present (white zones) and together with the local governments additional measures are being developed to stimulate roll-out of connectivity in those areas. By using a mix of technologies, Belgium is to ensure that everyone can access the internet.
By reducing administrative burdens and lowering roll-out costs of network operators, the government is stimulating the roll-out of new broadband technologies (fibre, LTE advanced, 5G). For example, every house that is being built or renovated in the future will need to be fibre ready. Moreover, a proactive 5G framework is to ensure Belgium is ready when the Internet-of-everything is rolled out.
There seem to be no state aid programmes for roll-out available. Neither does the plan state needed or planned investments. Yet, the Belgian government commits to reducing administrative burdens and costs of deployment of ICT infrastructures.
Digital Wallonia 2019-2024 sets the framework for the Walloon Government’s actions in terms of Wallonia’s digital transformation. Digital Wallonia is structured around eight cross-disciplinary challenges that form its structured framework and its key elements for all the decisions made and the measures taken within the five themes of Digital Wallonia. One of the challenges is Giga Region - Super-fast broadband for everyone as the bedrock of digital initiatives.
Measures for broadband development
Broadband mapping: The Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunications (BIPT) provides a mapping system for broadband (per technology) showing where Internet access is available at a particular speed. In this way, areas where high-performance infrastructure is not yet present (white areas) and additional measures are necessary can be identified.
There are mapping tools with infrastructure information provided on the regional level. An example is the KLIP – Kabel en Leiding Informatie Portal database in Flanders, which provides relevant information for planning, permit applicants, cable and pipeline operators as well as public administration.
A similar portal exists at federal scale: KLIM-CICC - Contact federal Informations Câbles et Conduites. Here, when planning works, one can either check whether there are any installations and pipelines for the transport of hazardous products or high-voltage cables as well as other cables or lines nearby, or announce the works to the cable operators and cable operators who will provide all necessary information.
The Walloon Region also has its own web-enabled portal to assist in the coordination of works planning, called Powalco. Digital Wallonia launched a new regional alert platform for broadband connectivity problems: Digital Wallonia Connect. This platform was developed with the cooperation of the three mobile Telecom operators in the frame of the “ToP” agreement.
Data on broadband development and technologies in Belgium
For the latest data on broadband coverage, subscriptions and penetrations, coverage of different broadband technologies and costs check the scoreboard reports and the country reports of the Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI).
Spectrum assignments for wireless broadband
For details on harmonised spectrum assignments consult the European 5G Observatory.
National publications and press documents
- Digital Belgium 2015-2020
- Digital Wallonia Strategy 2019-2024
- Study on National Broadband Plans in the EU-28
- Guide to High-Speed Broadband Investment
- Broadband Connectivity Reports and Analyses
- Mobile and fixed broadband prices in Europe at the end of 2019
- Study on broadband coverage in Europe 2019