Proximus starts 5G in Belgium, just in Dutch-speaking areas

Proximus starts 5G in Belgium, but just in Dutch-speaking areas

01 June 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Belgian operator Proximus has launched the first 5G network in the country – but it will be available mainly in Dutch-speaking areas.

That’s because the authorities in French-speaking Wallonia and multilingual Brussels, the capital, have imposed restrictions on transmission levels. Flanders, the Belgian province where most people speak Dutch – or Flemish – have more liberal rules.

According to weekend reports, the only French-speaking towns and cities to be covered by the initial service will be Charleroi and areas between Liège and Namur.

A report in yesterday’s Brussels Times said the first places to be covered (see map) will include Antwerp, Bruges, Leuven, Mechelen and Ostend, all largely Dutch-speaking.

In an interview earlier this year Werner De Laet, chief enterprise officer for innovation and wholesale at Orange Belgium, told Capacity of the challenges of designing 5G networks in Brussels and Wallonia – because of restrictions imposed long before today’s misinformed 5G paranoia. Flanders allows a radiation level of 20.6V/m, though the limit on each antenna is 3V/m, he told Capacity. In comparison, in Brussels there is a total limit of just 6V/m.

Proximus, formerly Belgacom, is charging €49.99 a month for 5G services – unlimited where the signal is available.

Proximus said the 5G launch is “an important first step towards a hyper-connected future”. It added: “5G provides an infrastructure that can cope with the exponential growth of data consumption and can support a multitude of devices to operate at the same time.”

The 26 municipalities covered by the 5G roll-out are Antwerp, Blankenberge, Bornem, Bredene, Bruges, De Haan, De Panne, Dendermonde, Ghent, Hasselt, Herent, Houthalen-Helchteren, Knokke-Heist, Koksijde, Kortrijk, Lier, Londerzeel, Mechelen, Menen, Mol, Tessenderlo, Tielt, Tongeren, Waregem, Zaventem and Zottegem.

One French-speaking community, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, specifically appealed to Proximus that the company stop the roll-out of 5G in its area. Proximus agreed in late March. “The municipal council is delighted to have been heard,” the authority said.