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Belgium - Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts


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

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Belgium’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors.

Subjects include:

Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
Facts, figures and statistics;
Industry and regulatory issues;
Infrastructure;
Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU, MoU;
Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
Mobile voice and data markets;
Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
Convergence and digital media;
3G subscriber and mobile ARPU forecasts to 2015;
Broadband market forecasts for selective years to 2020.

Key developments:

Telenet Tecteo Bidco awarded fourth 20-year 3G licence; regulator concludes 2.6GHz auction; Telenet extends MVNO agreement with Mobistar to 2017; mobile service revenue continues to fall; Proximus trials LTE in the 1.8GHz band; BASE contracts Ericsson for backhaul upgrade; non-SMS mobile revenue growth outstripping SMS revenue; regulators approve cable wholesale offers to come into effect by late 2012; government’s Start2Surf project furnishes more than 30,000 Belgians with computers and internet access; Belgacom invests in VDSL2 vectoring technology to provide at least 50Mb/s; VOO upgrades broadband offering to 100Mb/s; Telenet and Ziggo begin work on ‘Homespot’ WiFi system; Numéricable sells Belgium unit; regulator pursues cable network access reform; networks on track to reach national 30Mb/s connectivity by 2020; Movistar adds VoD to quintuple-play bundle; regulator proposes opening cable networks to competitors; Belgacom launches TV Everywhere service; CSA consults on Open Cable regulation for resale of analogue TV services, access to digital TV and the resale of broadband access; Norkring België to launch DTT using DVB-T2 standard in early 2013; Numéricable sells Belgian unit; regulator undergoes structural changes to meet strategic vision to 2013; regulator’s November 2011 market data update; telco financial and operating data to Q1 2012; market developments into 2012.

Companies covered in this report include:

Proximus, Mobistar, BASE, Telenet, Belgacom, UPC Belgium, COLT, Scarlet, Tele2, Versatel, Interkabel.


Cableco competition stimulating Belgacom to invest in FttHBuddeComm’s half-yearly publication, Belgium - Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecoms and digital media markets in one of Europe’s central and more complex telecom markets. The report includes the regulator’s November 2011 market data update, telco financial and operating data to Q1 2012 and market developments into 2012.

Certain sectors of Belgium’s telecom market, such as broadcasting, are influenced by its larger neighbours France and the Netherlands. The country’s population is split between two main language groups, Flemish and Walloon, with an additional strong German influence. This fragmentation affects regulatory policies. Being the base for several administrative centres of the European Union, Belgium has attracted considerable investment from multinationals, while the significant transient population has also contributed to the high mobile penetration.

Market revenue

The total turnover of the Belgian telecom sector has risen steadily in recent years, despite the economic difficulties which have beset consumers and operators alike since late 2008. Revenue from the fixed market continues to fall slightly, while that from mobile markets has recovered slightly on the back of greater spend on mobile broadband services. This pattern is expected to continue further into 2013 and 2014 though consumer confidence may be slow to return and economic conditions may improve only marginally in the short term. Despite liquidity issues, investment in telecom networks – partly encouraged by government stimulus funds – has grown year-on-year. Alternative operators have invested the largest proportion of the total.

Broadband developments

The broadband sector will be a key prop for overall telecom market growth during the next few years, largely from network upgrades undertaken by Belgacom and the cablecos. The proportion of broadband subscribers with data rates above 10Mb/s is one of the highest in the EU. The scale of the cablecos active in their regional areas has prompted Belgacom to respond with greater endeavour in rolling out FttH/C. The regulator has also promoted FttH, which forms a cornerstone of the government’s Digital Action Plan 2010-2015.

Mobile developments

The 2011 auction of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band – with licences made available from mid-2012 – will help operators reach national broadband goals set by the European Digital Agenda 2020. The conditions of the licenses – for 15 years with the potential for five-year extension, and with no rollout or coverage requirements – were aimed at making it easier for the commercial launch of LTE. Belgium has thus far been a laggard in Europe for 4G, though trials have been undertaken since 2010.

Key telecom parameters – 2010; 2012
Sector 2010 2012 (e)

Subscribers to telecoms services (million):

Fixed-broadband 3.36 4.05
Fixed-line telephony 4.64 4.52
Mobile telephony 12.64 12.80
Mobile-broadband 1.30 1.95

Subscriber penetration by sector:

Fixed-broadband 31.0% 35.1%
Fixed-line telephony 38% 34%
Mobile SIM 117% 119%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Market highlights:

Norkring België, which launched regional DTTV services at the end of 2011, planned to upgrade its network to the DVB-T2 standard from the first quarter of 2013. This will be the catalyst for Telenet to launch its own services using this standard.The auction for spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band will enable licensees to expand their LTE commercial services, expected to be launched later in 2012. This will bolster the countrys broadband availability is less densely populated areas in coming years.Telenet in early 2012 began adding half a million extra free WiFi locations for customers by turning wireless modems at subscribers’ homes into ‘Homespots’, similar to the concept developed by FON.More than a third of broadband subscribers have data speeds of 10Mb/s or higher – one of the highest proportions in the EU – while a fifth have a speed equal to or above 30Mb/s: in this respect Belgium is among the leaders in the EU for very-high speed lines.Fibre networks remain slow to develop outside the main cities, where it is targeted at multi-tenanted buildings. Regulatory measures obliging Belgacom to provide competitors access to its fibre network, as well as favourable conditions on duct access and the installation of ducts above ground, will reduce engineering costs by up to 80% and help the country catch up with developments in the leading European markets.This report is essential reading for those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in Belgium.

It provides further information on:

Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
The impact of the global economic crisis;
Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
Mobile data market developments in coming years in light of spectrum auctions and new license awards;
3G developments, regulatory issues and technologies including HSPA and LTE;
Broadband migration to an FttH architecture;
Historical and current subscriber statistics and forecasts;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
3.1.2 Revised NFR
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
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 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 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
7.2.1 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)
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 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 2006-2012; 2015
9.3 Forecast – mobile ARPU 2005-2010; 2015
9.4 Notes on scenario forecasts
10. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of Tables, Charts and Exhibits
Table 1 – Country statistics – 2011 (e)
Table 2 – Telecom revenue and investment statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 3 – Telephone network statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 4 – Internet user statistics – 2013 (e)
Table 5 – Broadband statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 6 – Mobile statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 7 – National telecommunications authority
Table 8 – Telecom market investment: fixed and mobile by sector – 2006 - 2012
Table 9 – Telecom market investment (regulator data) – 2007 - 2010
Table 10 – Telecom market revenue by sector – 2006 - 2012
Table 11 – Telecom market revenue (not inc. TV) – 2006 - 2012
Table 12 – Unbundled loops and access lines – 2004 - 2009
Table 13 – BRUO and BROBA monthly access fees – 2011
Table 14 – Fixed numbers ported (historical) – 2000 - 2005
Table 15 – Carrier preselect numbers and annual change – 2000 - 2010
Table 16 – Fixed-line telephony revenue – 2002 - 2013
Table 17 – Fixed-line traffic by type – 2005 - 2012
Table 18 – Belgacom (CBU) access channels – 2007 - 2012
Table 19 – Belgacom residential traffic – 2007 - 2012
Table 20 – Belgacom financial data – 2003 - 2012
Table 21 – Belgacom revenue by sector – 2004 - 2012
Table 22 – Belgacom revenue by operating division – 2007 - 2012
Table 23 – Belgacom fixed-line services revenue by sector (CBU) – 2007 - 2012
Table 24 – Belgacom monthly ARPU by sector (CBU) – 2005 - 2012
Table 25 – Mobistar financial data by sector – 2007 - 2012
Table 26 – Mobistar subscribers by sector – 2008 - 2012
Table 27 – Telenet revenue by sector – 2004 - 2012
Table 28 – Telenet subscribers by sector – 2006 - 2012
Table 29 – Telenet financial data – 2005 - 2012
Table 30 – Telenet subscriber monthly ARPU – 2005 - 2012
Table 31 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2012
Table 32 – Fixed lines by type – 2006 - 2012
Table 33 – Altnet fixed lines – 2000 - 2012
Table 34 – Broadband lines by data rate – 2010
Table 35 – Internet users and penetration rate – 1995 - 2012
Table 36 – Broadband fixed-line subscribers by technology – 2000 - 2012
Table 37 – Broadband penetration – 2000 - 2012
Table 38 – Broadband market share by operator – 2006 - 2011
Table 39 – Cable modem subscribers – 2000 - 2012
Table 40 – Telenet broadband subscribers – 2006 - 2012
Table 41 – Telenet financial data – 2005 - 2012
Table 42 – ADSL subscribers – 2000 - 2012
Table 43 – Belgacom ADSL subscribers – 2000 - 2012
Table 44 – Mobistar broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2012
Table 45 – WLL broadband subscribers – 2005 - 2012
Table 46 – Mobile broadband subscribers by technology – 2008 - 2012
Table 47 – Bundled services by type – 2007 - 2012
Table 48 – Telenet triple-play subscribers – 2002 - 2012
Table 49 – Belgacom TV subscribers – 2006 - 2012
Table 50 – Belgacom annualised IPTV ARPU, revenue – 2006 - 2012
Table 51 – VoIP connections – 2006 - 2012
Table 52 – Cable TV subscribers and penetration rate – 1995 – 2011; 2015
Table 53 – Telenet cable TV subscribers by sector – 2005 - 2012
Table 54 – Telenet subscriber annualised monthly ARPU – 2005 - 2012
Table 55 – Satellite TV subscribers – 1995 - 2011; 2015
Table 56 – Mobile service revenue – 2004 - 2012
Table 57 – Mobile revenue by type – 2001 - 2012
Table 58 – Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change – Mar 2012
Table 59 – Mobile/SIM card subscribers and teledensity – 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2012
Table 60 – Active mobile/SIM card subscribers and teledensity – 2006 - 2012
Table 61 – Mobile traffic – 2005 - 2013
Table 62 – Market share by operator – 2002 - 2011
Table 63 – 2.6GHz auction results – 2011
Table 64 – European roaming charges – 2007 - 2012
Table 65 – Roaming revenue – 2001 - 2012
Table 66 – Mobile termination tariffs – 2006 - 2008
Table 67 – Proposed mobile termination tariffs – 2009 - 2013
Table 68 – Mobile termination revenue – 2007 - 2012
Table 69 – Annual mobile numbers ported (historic) – 2002 - 2005; 2008
Table 70 – Proximus revenue by sector (CBU) – 2007 - 2012
Table 71 – Proximus total subscribers – 2005 - 2012
Table 72 – Proximus CBU subscribers by type – 2007 - 2012
Table 73 – Proximus annualised ARPU (CBU) by sector – 2007 - 2012
Table 74 – Mobistar subscribers – 2007 - 2012
Table 75 – Mobistar data ARPU as proportion total mobile ARPU – 2007 - 2011
Table 76 – Mobistar mobile revenue – 2005 - 2012
Table 77 – Mobistar annualised ARPU – 2005 - 2012
Table 78 – BASE mobile revenue – 2007 - 2012
Table 79 – BASE subscribers – 2004 - 2012
Table 80 – BASE annualised ARPU – 2005 - 2012
Table 81 – Telenet mobile subscribers – 2006 - 2012
Table 82 – MVNO subscribers and market share – 2006 - 2012
Table 83 – MVNO mobile traffic and market share – 2006 - 2012
Table 84 – Mobile voice service revenue – 2001 - 2012
Table 85 – Proportion of prepaid subscribers by operator – 2004 - 2010
Table 86 – Prepaid and contract subscribers – 2001 - 2012
Table 87 – Proximus SMS messages (CBU) – 2008 - 2012
Table 88 – SMS traffic – 2001 - 2012
Table 89 – Forecast broadband subscribers – higher market growth scenario – 2010 - 2012; 2020
Table 90 – Forecast broadband penetration – higher market growth scenario – 2007 - 2012; 2020
Table 91 – Forecast broadband subscribers – lower market growth scenario – 2010 - 2012; 2020
Table 92 – Forecast broadband penetration – lower market growth scenario – 2007 - 2012; 2020
Table 93 – Forecast UMTS subscribers – 2006 - 2012; 2015
Table 94 – Forecast mobile ARPU – 2005 - 2010; 2015
Chart 1 – Telecom market revenue by sector – 2006 - 2012
Chart 2 – Fixed-line traffic by type – 2005 – 2012
Chart 3 – Belgacom residential traffic – 2007 - 2012
Chart 4 – Belgacom financial data – 2003 - 2012
Chart 5 – Belgacom revenue by sector – 2004 - 2012
Chart 6 – Belgacom revenue by operating division – 2007 - 2012
Chart 7 – Belgacom fixed-line services revenue by sector (CBU) – 2007 - 2012
Chart 8 – Mobistar financial data – 2007 - 2012
Chart 9 – Mobistar subscribers by sector – 2008 - 2012
Chart 10 – Telenet revenue by sector – 2004 - 2012
Chart 11 – Telenet subscribers by sector – 2006 - 2012
Chart 12 – Telenet financial data – 2005 - 2012
Chart 13 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2002 - 2012
Chart 14 – Fixed lines by type – 2006 – 2012
Chart 15 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2000 - 2012
Chart 16 – Broadband subscribers by technology – 2000 - 2012
Chart 17 – Telenet financial data – 2005 - 2012
Chart 18 – Mobile broadband subscribers by technology – 2008 - 2012
Chart 19 – Bundled services by type – 2007 – 2012
Chart 20 – Belgacom annualised ARPU, revenue – 2006 - 2012
Chart 21 – Cable TV subscriber statistics and penetration rate – 2000 - 2011; 2015
Chart 22 – Telenet cable TV subscribers by sector – 2007 - 2012
Chart 23 – Mobile service revenue – 2004 – 2012
Chart 24 – Mobile revenue by type – 2001 – 2012
Chart 25 – Mobile/SIM card subscribers and teledensity –2002 - 2012
Chart 26 – Market share by operator – 2002 - 2011
Chart 27 – Proximus revenue by sector (CBU) – 2007 - 2012
Chart 28 – Proximus CBU subscribers by type – 2007 - 2012
Chart 29 – Proximus annualised ARPU (CBU) by sector – 2007 - 2012
Chart 30 – BASE annualised ARPU – 2005 - 2012
Chart 31 – Forecast broadband subscribers – higher market growth scenario – 2007 - 2012; 2020
Chart 32 – Forecast broadband subscribers – lower market growth scenario – 2007 - 2012; 2020
Exhibit 1 – EU – The New Regulatory Framework (NRF)
Exhibit 2 – Access and the local loop
Exhibit 3 – Number portability defined
Exhibit 4 – Key ADSL service providers – 2012

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