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Belgium - Telecoms, IP Networks and Digital Media


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

BuddeComm’s annual publication, Belgium - Telecoms, IP Networks and Digital Media, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Belgium.


BuddeComm’s annual publication, Belgium - Telecoms, IP Networks and Digital Media, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Belgium.

  Belgium’s medium-sized telecom market has seen slower growth since 2007. The fixed-line telephony sector continues to contract while investments in the mobile sector have fallen as the major network builds near completion and MNOs focus on technology upgrades. The country’s population is split between two language groups, Flemish and Walloon, which affects regulatory policies. Its geographic position has also affected digital TV market development, given the influence of the neighbouring French and Dutch markets.

  Belgium has not kept up with the top European performers for broadband penetration, partly due to high retail prices for Internet access. Nevertheless, strong consumer demand for triple play and converged services has stimulated operators to continue investing in network upgrades. In Flanders, the broadband market is shared between Belgacom and Telenet, while in Wallonia and Brussels the once fragmented competition has gradually consolidated.

  Belgium - Key telecom parameters - 2004; 2008
Sector | 2004 | 2008 |
Fixed-line services: |
         Total subscribers (million) | 4.8 | 4.1 |
         Annual change | -6% | -9% |
         Fixed-line penetration (population) | 47% | 40% |
Broadband: |
         Subscribers (million) | 1.67 | 2.93 |
         Annual change | 30% | 13% |
         Broadband penetration (population) | 16.2% | 27.6% |
Mobile services: |
         Total subscribers (million) | 8.49 | 11.34 |
         Annual change |
5% |
7.7% |
         Mobile penetration (population) | 78% | 108% |
| (Source: BuddeComm)

  Key highlights:

  •        In early 2009 about 27% of broadband subscribers had data speeds of 10Mb/s or higher - one of the highest proportions in the EU. Some 61% of subscribers had data rates of between 2Mb/s and 10Mb/s.
  •          IPTV penetration is considerably higher than most other EU countries. Belgacom is one of the three largest IPTV operators in Europe, with its success partly due to its high spending on broadcast rights for football competitions.
  •         Belgium’s market for bundled services remains relatively immature, with only about 5% of the population subscribed to double play services and less than 1% to triple play services. There are only three operators providing triple play, and about 14 providing double play. Given the competition between the main players Telenet, Tele 2, Scarlet and Mobistar there remains much potential growth for converged services, with a consequent price squeeze benefiting consumers.
  •          Growth in mobile services revenue has been affected by price reductions resulting from increased competition, as well as several regulatory measures. As a result, about a third of Belgians have dispensed with fixed lines in favour of mobile-only solutions. The widespread availability of HSPA has encouraged consumer take-up of mobile broadband and data services.
  Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

  The following notes provide some background to our scenario forecasting methodology:
  •         This report includes what we term scenario forecasts. By describing long-range scenarios we identify a band within which we expect market growth to occur. The associated text describes what we see as the most likely growth trend within this band.
  •          The projections shown in the tables in this report are based on our own historical information, as well as on telecommunication sector statistics from official and non-official, national and international sources. We assume a possible deviation of 15-20% around this data.
  •         All statistics for GDP, revenue, etc are shown in US$, in order to maintain consistency within and between markets. At the same time we acknowledge that this can introduce some irregularities.

1. Key Statistics
2. Telecommunications Market
2.1 Overview of Belgium’s telecom market
3. Regulatory Environment
3.1 History
3.1.1 EU regulatory framework
3.2 Regulatory authority
3.2.1 Belgian Institute for Posts and Telecommunications (BIPT)
3.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Belgium
3.3.1 Privatisation of Belgacom
3.3.2 Interconnect
3.3.3 Access
3.3.4 Number Portability (NP)
3.3.5 Carrier PreSelection (CPS)
3.3.6 Wholesale Line Rental (WLR)
4. Fixed Network Operators in Belgium
4.1 Overview of operators
4.2 Belgacom
4.3 COLT Telecom NV
4.4 Mobistar
4.5 Scarlet (formerly KPN Belgium)
4.6 Tele2 Belgium
4.7 Telenet
4.8 Versatel Telecom
5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
5.1 National telecom network
5.2 Next Generation Network (NGN)
5.3 International infrastructure
6. Broadband Market
6.1 Overview
6.1.1 Broadband statistics
6.2 Cable modems
6.2.1 Telenet
6.2.2 UPC Broadband
6.2.3 Interkabel
6.3 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
6.3.1 Belgacom’s DSL services
6.3.2 Versatel/Tele2 Belgium
6.3.3 Mobistar
6.4 Other DSL developments
6.4.1 SDSL
6.4.2 VDSL
6.4.3 G.SHDSL
6.5 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) networks
6.5.1 Regulating fibre
6.5.2 Digital Metropolis Antwerp
6.6 Broadband Powerline (BPL)
6.7 Wireless broadband
6.7.1 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)
6.7.2 WLAN/WiFi
6.7.3 WiMAX
6.8 Mobile broadband
7. Convergence
7.1 Overview of media convergence
7.2 Key general trends
7.3 Triple play models
7.4 Regulatory issues
7.5 Digital TV (DTV)
7.5.1 Broadband TV (IPTV)
7.5.2 VoIP
7.5.3 Video-on-Demand (VoD)
7.5.4 Cable TV
7.5.5 Satellite TV
7.5.6 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)
7.5.7 Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
7.5.8 Interactive TV (iDTV)
8. Mobile Communications
8.1 Overview of Belgium’s mobile market
8.1.1 Mobile statistics
8.1.2 Operator market shares
8.2 Regulatory issues
8.2.1 Spectrum regulations and spectrum auctions
8.2.2 Roaming
8.2.3 Mobile termination rates (MTRs)
8.2.4 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
8.3 Mobile technologies
8.3.1 Digital
8.3.2 Third Generation (3G) mobile
8.4 Major mobile operators
8.4.1 Proximus
8.4.2 Mobistar
8.4.3 BASE
8.4.4 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
8.5 Mobile voice services
8.5.1 Prepaid cards
8.6 Mobile data services
8.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
8.6.2 SMS over fixed networks
8.6.3 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
8.6.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
8.6.5 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
8.6.6 High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)
8.6.7 High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA)
8.6.8 i-mode
8.6.9 BlackBerry
8.6.10 Mobile TV
8.7 Mobile applications
8.7.1 Location-based services
9. Forecasts
9.1 Forecast - broadband subscribers to 2018
9.1.1 Scenario 1 - higher broadband subscriber growth
9.1.2 Scenario 2 - lower broadband subscriber growth
9.2 Forecast - UMTS subscribers to 2013
9.3 Forecast - mobile ARPU to 2013
10. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of Tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Country statistics Belgium - 2009
Table 2 - Telecom revenue and investment statistics - 2007
Table 3 - Telephone network statistics - January 2009
Table 4 - Internet user statistics - March 2009
Table 5 - Broadband statistics - January 2009
Table 6 - Mobile statistics - June 2009
Table 7 - National telecommunications authority
Table 8 - Telecom market investment by sector - 2006 - 2007
Table 9 - Telecom market revenue by sector - 2006 - 2007
Table 10 - Market share of households by sector (historic) - 2002 - 2005
Table 11 - LLU, shared access price - connection, monthly rental - 2005 - 2008
Table 12 - Unbundled loops and access lines - 2005 - 2009
Table 13 - Wholesale access lines - 2008 - 2009
Table 14 - Analogue access channels - PSTN, ISDN-2, ISDN-30 (historic) - 2000 - 2005
Table 15 - BRUO and BROBA monthly access fees - 2008
Table 16 - Fixed numbers ported (regulator data) - 2000 - 2005
Table 17 - Cumulative fixed number portings (EC data) - 2005 - 2008
Table 18 - Carrier preselect numbers and annual change - 2000 - 2005
Table 19 - Belgacom residential access channels - 2007 - 2008
Table 20 - Belgacom subscribers by sector - 2008
Table 21 - Belgacom residential traffic - 2007 - 2008
Table 22 - Belgacom financial data - 2003 - 2008
Table 23 - Belgacom revenue by sector - 2004 - 2008
Table 24 - Belgacom revenue by operating division & annual change - 2007 - 2008
Table 25 - Belgacom fixed-line services revenue by sector - 2007 - 2008
Table 26 - Belgacom revenue share by sector - 2005 - 2007
Table 27 - Belgacom monthly ARPU by sector - 2005 - 2008
Table 28 - Mobistar financial data - 2005 - 2009
Table 29 - Mobistar financial data by sector - 2005 - 2009
Table 30 - Telenet financial data - 2005 - 2009
Table 31 - Telenet revenue by sector - 2003 - 2009
Table 32 - Telenet subscribers by sector - 2005 - 2009
Table 33 - Telenet subscriber monthly ARPU - 2005 - 2009
Table 34 - Versatel financial data (historic) - 2005 - 2007
Table 35 - Versatel subscriber statistics (historic) - 2005 - 2007
Table 36 - Versatel subscribers by type (historic) - 2006 - 2007
Table 37 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2009
Table 38 - Internet users and penetration rate - 1995 - 2009
Table 39 - Broadband subscribers by technology and penetration rates - 2000 - 2009
Table 40 - Broadband market share by sector (historic) - 2002 - 2005
Table 41 - Broadband subscribers by access type - 2006; 2008 - 2009
Table 42 - Cable modem subscribers - 2000 - 2009
Table 43 - Telenet subscribers by sector - 2005 - 2009
Table 44 - Telenet financial data - 2005 - 2009
Table 45 - UPC Belgium subscriber data (historic) - 2006
Table 46 - ADSL subscribers - 2000 - 2009
Table 47 - Belgacom ADSL subscribers - 2000 - 2008
Table 48 - Bitstream and wholesale subscribers - 2002 - 2009
Table 49 - WLL broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 50 - Belgacom TV users, ARPU and revenue - 2006 - 2008
Table 51 - Cable TV subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2009
Table 52 - Telenet subscribers by sector - 2005 - 2009
Table 53 - Telenet ARPU - 2005 - 2009
Table 54 - UPC Belgium statistics per market segment (historic) - 2005 - 2006
Table 55 - Satellite TV subscribers - 1995 - 2009
Table 56 - Mobile service revenue - 2004 - 2007; 2010
Table 57 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - June 2009
Table 58 - Mobile subscribers and teledensity - 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2009
Table 59 - Mobile market share by operator - 2002 - 2008
Table 60 - Market share of net adds by operator - 2005 - 2008
Table 61 - Maximum mobile roaming charges - 2007 - 2009
Table 62 - Mobile termination tariffs by operator - 2006 - 2008
Table 63 - Annual mobile numbers ported - 2002 - 2005; 2008
Table 64 - Cumulative mobile numbers ported (EC data) - 2005 - 2008
Table 65 - Proximus revenue by sector (CBU) - 2004 - 2009
Table 66 - Proximus subscribers and prepaid proportion - 2004 - 2009
Table 67 - Proximus CBU subscribers - 2007 - 2009
Table 68 - Proximus ARPU (consumer) by sector - 2007 - 2009
Table 69 - Mobistar subscribers and prepaid proportion - 2003 - 2009
Table 70 - Mobistar Group financial data and annualised ARPU - 2005 - 2009
Table 71 - BASE financial data - 2005 - 2009
Table 72 - BASE subscribers, prepaid proportion & ARPU - 2004 - 2009
Table 73 - Proportion of prepaid subscribers by operator - 2004 - 2009
Table 74 - Proximus SMS messages (CBU) - 2007 - 2008
Table 75 - Premium SMS market overview
Table 76 - Forecast broadband subscribers - higher market growth scenario - 2007 - 2012; 2018
Table 77 - Forecast broadband subscribers - lower market growth scenario - 2007 - 2012; 2018
Table 78 - Forecast UMTS subscribers - 2006 - 2013
Table 79 - Forecast mobile ARPU - 2005 - 2010; 2013
Exhibit 1 - EU’s New Regulatory Framework (NRF)
Exhibit 2 - Key ADSL service providers - 2009
Exhibit 3 - WiMAX spectrum licences - 2001 - 2005

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