Belgian Business Fiber development finally happening at full throttle

Posted on Thursday, April 5, 2018

Belgium has some catching up to do when it comes to development of business fiber to say the least. At the end of 2017, Belgium had 48% more fiber connections than the year before but still, the country lags far behind literally every other European country, a study by FTTH Council Europe and research agency iDate finds. The Netherlands finds itself in the middle of the pack.

The FTTH Council combines the coverage of both FTTH (Fiber To The Home) and FTTB (Fiber To The Business) to achieve a total coverage percentage. Current number one in the global ranking are the United Arab Emirates with an impressive 94.3% coverage. The first European country follows at quite a distance with 50.4% for Latvia. Despite trying to catch-up, Belgium’s ranking is still appallingly bad. With a penetration of less than one percent, it does not even appear on the tables. The Netherlands is somewhere in the middle with a penetration of 17.9%. The largest network operators Telenet and Proximus announced the much-needed investments.

Despite these figures, Telenet does not consider rolling out business fiber throughout Belgium. Micha Berger, Telenet’s CTO, is convinced that the coax cable is also strong enough in the long term to achieve speeds up to 10 Gbit/s. But, he says: "As an operator I prefer to hedge my bets". When starting new residential housing projects, Telenet always looks at whether it is profitable to install optic fiber. In Leuven Telenet started in September 2017 with the connection of optic fiber for a first residential project. "De Grote Netwerf", translated ‘the large Network Yard’ is the name of the Telenet investment project, by which in five years’ time 500 million euros will be allocated to expand the network. At this moment De Grote Netwerf is halfway and 200 municipalities have already received an update to their network. The idea is to provide fixed internet up to 1Gbit / s throughout Flanders by 2019, both via coax and via fiber.

Proximus, the largest carrier in Belgium, has even bigger ambitions. Over the next ten years, Proximus will invest three billion euros to accelerate the roll-out of its optic fiber network. In 2027, more than 50 percent of homes and 85 percent of businesses must be fiber-accessible. This should be a full 100% in densely populated urban areas. The start of Proximus' own 'Grote Netwerf' was given in early 2017 in the cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Roeselare, Charleroi and Namur. Proximus therefore regards fiber optics as "the fixed network of the future", with "superior experience, ultra-fast download and upload speeds and unrivaled responsiveness". With this kind of attitude, Belgium will eventually get there, we think.

Do you have a business location in Belgium? Check current availability of business internet at your location.

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