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Belgium - Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts


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

This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Belgium’s telecommunications market. The report analyses trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, Internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media including VoIP, VoD and IPTV developments.

 Subjects include:

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Internet and broadband development;
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);


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

Belgium’s medium-sized telecom market was stagnant during 2008 and 2009, with marginal revenue growth. This was partly the result of the continuing economic crisis which has affected customer spend, as also the stability of prices over the last years as competition between Belgacom and the cable operators has led to cheaper bundled product offerings. Nevertheless, investments in telecom networks - partly encouraged by government stimulus funds - grew by 4.5% in 2008 year-on-year, and similar growth is expected in 2010 as the main players concentrate on mobile network upgrades and the build-out of fibre infrastructure.

The country’s population is split between two language groups, Flemish and Walloon, which affects regulatory policies as well as the operations of telecom players. Its geographic position has also affected digital TV market development, given the influence of the neighbouring French and Dutch markets. Digital switchover was completed in the northern part of the country in 2008, since when the Flemish government has free digital frequencies for radio and TV broadcasting. Digital switchover the southern part of the country will take place in November 2011.

In Flanders, the broadband market is shared between Belgacom and Telenet, while in Wallonia and Brussels the once fragmented competition has been gradually consolidated. Belgium has not kept up with the top European performers in this market. Belgacom is continuing to roll out its FttC network (aiming to cover more than 70% of households), though the FttH build is marginal and only affects a small number of households. This may change rapidly in coming years as the regulator’s promotion of FttH - a cornerstone of the government’s Digital Action Plan 2010-2015 - comes to fruition. This will be manifested in legislative and administrative interventions regarding the rights of way for competitors to ducts and buildings, as well as measures to complement the fixed-line network with new licences for 3G mobile services in the sub-GHz band.

Belgium - key telecom parameters - 2009; 2011
Sector 2009 2011 (e)
Broadband:
Fixed broadband subscribers (million) 3.34 3.86
Fixed broadband penetration rate 30% 36%
Mobile broadband subscribers (million) 1.0 1.6
Subscribers to telecoms services:
Fixed-line telephony (million) 3.8 3.5
SIM cards in service (million) 12.7 13.0
SIM penetration (population) 119% 134%
(Source: BuddeComm)

 Market highlightsBy the beginning of 2010 41% of retail broadband lines offered 10Mb/s or higher, and 52% offered speeds between 2Mb/s and 10Mb/s. Data speeds should increase rapidly during coming years as the nation’s fibre infrastructure expands, though the current emphasis on hybrid DSL/FttC networks will initially dampen potential until the regulator’s provisions for supporting FttH networks bear fruit. Prices remain comparatively high despite LLU and effective cross-platform competition.IPTV penetration in Belgium 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 is maturing, with some 9% of the population subscribing to double-play services but only about 2% to triple play services. This is mainly due to the limited number of providers (Belgacom and the cablecos alone). Only about 5% of the population buy bundled packs that include broadcasting services. Two mobile network operators - Mobistar and Proximus - provide broadcast offerings. Mobistar’s launch of a multi-screen TV service using the TV, PC and mobile platforms shows the commitment of its parent company, France Telecom, which is already active with innovative TV products in a number of its markets.The development of LTE upgrades from both Telenet and Mobistar during 2010 and 2011, with a focus on mobile data rather than voice, will strengthen their position in the crucial mobile data market, given that overall growth in mobile voice services revenue has been affected by price reductions resulting from increased competition and some regulatory measures.For those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecommunications sector in Germany, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:

Developments in the digital broadcast market, IPTV and VoD;
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
The impact of the global economic crisis;
Telecoms operators - privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
Internet and broadband development and growth;
VoIP, IPTV, VoD, digital TV and DTTV;
Historical and current subscriber statistics;Average Revenue per User (ARPU) statistics and forecasts. Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

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 Market
4.1 Overview of operators
4.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
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
6.1.2 Market share
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 Market overview and statistics
6.3.2 Belgacom’s DSL services
6.3.3 Versatel/Tele2 Belgium
6.3.4 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 Government support
6.5.2 Regulating fibre
6.5.3 Digital Metropolis Antwerp
6.5.4 Belgacom
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. Digital Media
7.1 Key general trends
7.2 Business models and bundled services
7.3 Regulatory issues
7.4 Digital TV (DTV)
7.4.1 Broadband TV (IPTV)
7.4.2 VoIP
7.4.3 Video-on-Demand (VoD)
7.4.4 Cable TV
7.4.5 Satellite TV
7.4.6 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)
7.4.7 Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
7.4.8 Interactive TV (iDTV)
7.4.9 Personal Video Recorders (PVRs)
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 Number portability (NP)
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 Messaging
8.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
8.6.2 SMS over fixed networks
8.6.3 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
8.7 Mobile data services
8.7.1 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
8.7.2 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
8.7.3 High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA)
8.7.4 High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA)
8.7.5 Long-term evolution (LTE)
8.7.6 i-mode
8.7.7 BlackBerry
8.7.8 iPhone
8.7.9 Mobile TV
8.8 Mobile applications
8.8.1 Location-based services
9. Forecasts
9.1 Forecast - broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2012; 2020
9.1.1 Scenario 1 - higher broadband subscriber growth
9.1.2 Scenario 2 - lower broadband subscriber growth
9.2 Forecast - UMTS subscribers - 2009 - 2012; 2015
9.3 Forecast - mobile ARPU - 2009 - 2010; 2015
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 2010
Table 4 - Internet user statistics - 2009
Table 5 - Broadband statistics - 2009
Table 6 - Mobile statistics - 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 - Telecom market revenue by major operators - 2005 - 2010
Table 11 - Telecom investment proportion by major operators - 2005 - 2008
Table 12 - LLU, shared access price - connection, monthly rental - 2005 - 2008
Table 13 - Unbundled loops and access lines - 2005 - 2009
Table 14 - Wholesale access lines - 2008 - 2009
Table 15 - Unbundled loops and access lines (regulator data) - 2004 - 2008
Table 16 - Analogue access channels - PSTN, ISDN-2, ISDN-30 (historical) - 2000 - 2005
Table 17 - BRUO and BROBA monthly access fees - 2008
Table 18 - Fixed numbers ported (regulator data) - 2000 - 2005
Table 19 - Cumulative fixed number portings (EC data) - 2005 - 2008
Table 20 - Carrier preselect numbers and annual change - 2000 - 2005
Table 21 - Fixed-line telephony connections by type - 2004 - 2008
Table 22 - Fixed-line telephony revenue - 2002 - 2011
Table 23 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2011
Table 24 - Belgacom (CBU) access channels - 2007 - 2010
Table 25 - Belgacom residential traffic - 2007 - 2010
Table 26 - Belgacom financial data - 2003 - 2010
Table 27 - Belgacom revenue by sector - 2004 - 2010
Table 28 - Belgacom revenue by operating division - 2007 - 2010
Table 29 - Belgacom fixed-line services revenue by sector (CBU) - 2007 - 2010
Table 30 - Belgacom monthly ARPU by sector (CBU) - 2005 - 2010
Table 31 - Mobistar financial data - 2005 - 2010
Table 32 - Mobistar financial data by sector - 2007 - 2010
Table 33 - Telenet revenue by sector - 2003 - 2010
Table 34 - Telenet subscribers by sector - 2006 - 2010
Table 35 - Telenet financial data - 2005 - 2010
Table 36 - Telenet subscriber annualised monthly ARPU - 2005 - 2010
Table 37 - Versatel financial data (historical) - 2005 - 2007
Table 38 - Versatel subscriber statistics (historical) - 2005 - 2007
Table 39 - Versatel subscribers by type (historical) - 2006 - 2007
Table 40 - Internet users and penetration rate - 1995 - 2011
Table 41 - Broadband subscriber by technology and penetration rates - 2000 - 2011
Table 42 - Broadband market share by sector - 2007 - 2008
Table 43 - Broadband subscribers by access type - 2006; 2008 - 2009
Table 44 - Cable modem subscribers - 2000 - 2011
Table 45 - Telenet subscribers by sector - 2006 - 2010
Table 46 - Telenet financial data - 2005 - 2010
Table 47 - UPC Belgium subscriber data (historical) - 2006
Table 48 - ADSL subscribers - 2000 - 2011
Table 49 - Belgacom ADSL subscribers - 2000 - 2009
Table 50 - Bitstream and wholesale subscribers - 2002 - 2009
Table 51 - Mobistar broadband and fixed-line subscribers - 2008 - 2010
Table 52 - WLL broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2011
Table 53 - Mobile broadband subscribers by technology - 2008 - 2010
Table 54 - Bundled service customers by type - 2007 - 2008
Table 55 - Belgacom TV users, annualised ARPU, revenue - 2006 - 2010
Table 56 - VoIP connections - 2006 - 2011
Table 57 - Cable TV subscriber statistics and penetration rate - 1995 - 2011
Table 58 - Telenet subscribers by sector - 2005 - 2010
Table 59 - Telenet subscriber annualised monthly ARPU - 2005 - 2010
Table 60 - UPC Belgium statistics per market segment (historical) - 2005 - 2006
Table 61 - Satellite TV subscribers - 1995 - 2011
Table 62 - Mobile service revenue - 2004 - 2011
Table 63 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - 2009
Table 64 - Mobile/SIM card subscribers and teledensity - 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2011
Table 65 - Market share by operator - 2002 - 2009
Table 66 - European retail roaming charges - 2007 - 2012
Table 67 - Roaming calls revenue - 2001 - 2011
Table 68 - Mobile termination tariffs - 2006 - 2008
Table 69 - Proposed mobile termination tariffs - 2009 - 2013
Table 70 - Annual mobile numbers ported - 2002 - 2005; 2008
Table 71 - Cumulative mobile numbers ported (EC data) - 2005 - 2008
Table 72 - Proximus revenue by sector (CBU) - 2007 - 2010
Table 73 - Proximus subscribers and prepaid proportion - 2004 - 2009
Table 74 - Proximus CBU subscribers - 2008; 2010
Table 75 - Proximus net ARPU (CBU) by sector - 2007 - 2010
Table 76 - Mobistar subscribers and prepaid proportion - 2003 - 2010
Table 77 - Mobistar data ARPU as proportion total mobile ARPU - 2007 - 2010
Table 78 - Mobistar Group financial data and annualised ARPU - 2005 - 2010
Table 79 - BASE financial data - 2005 - 2010
Table 80 - BASE subscribers, prepaid proportion and ARPU by contract type - 2004 - 2010
Table 81 - Telenet mobile subscribers - 2006 - 2010
Table 82 - Mobile voice service revenue - 2001 - 2010
Table 83 - Proportion of prepaid subscribers by operator - 2004 - 2009
Table 84 - Prepaid and contract subscribers; proportion prepaid - 2001 - 2008
Table 85 - Proximus SMS messages (CBU) - 2007 - 2010
Table 86 - Premium SMS market overview
Table 87 - Mobistar mobile broadband subscribers - 2008 - 2010
Table 88 - Forecast broadband subscribers - higher market growth scenario - 2007 - 2012; 2020
Table 89 - Forecast broadband subscribers - lower market growth scenario - 2007 - 2012; 2020
Table 90 - Forecast UMTS subscribers - 2009 - 2012; 2015
Table 91 - Forecast mobile ARPU - 2009 - 2010; 2015
Exhibit 1 - EU - The New Regulatory Framework (NRF)
Exhibit 2 - Number portability defined
Exhibit 3 - Key ADSL service providers - 2010
Exhibit 4 - WiMAX spectrum licenses - 2001 - 2005
Exhibit 5 - Overview of media convergence

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