Belgian operator Proximus plans to invest €3 billion over the coming 10 years to accelerate its deployment of fibre right into homes and apartments in Belgium.
The roll-out will start in six city regions in early 2017, with the aim of reaching more than 85 per cent of all businesses and more than 50 per cent of all households with fibre. The first cities to be covered will be Antwerp, Brussels, Charleroi, Ghent, Namur and Roeselare.
The ‘Fiber for Belgium’ investment plan, which was approved by the company’s Board of Directors on 15th December, is the first large-scale deployment of fibre to the home (FTTH) in Belgium, the operator asserts.
This news will help Belgium combat its reputation as one of the fibre laggards in Europe (along with the UK), that has not yet reached the threshold of one per cent of its population subscribing to fibre-based services, according to the previous edition of the FTTH Ranking (see FTTH subscribers in Europe reach 36 million).
But Proximus has seen the light. Feedback from the first customers connected to fibre-to-the-home in new residential development reveals that these customers welcome the innovation and have a higher level of overall satisfaction. They are more loyal and use more services, according to the operator.
Now Proximus hopes that the superior experience created by fibre, with ultra-fast download and upload speeds and unrivalled responsiveness, will help the company increase its market share in the residential segment and strengthen its position in the enterprise segment.
Proximus plans to build upon the fibre already installed in its VDSL network, which contains more than 21,000km of optical fibre connecting its street cabinets as well as its ‘Fit for Growth’ programme, which has brough fibre networks in more than 80 per cent of business districts in Belgium.
From a financial and operational point of view, it clearly makes sense to combine the deployment of fibre-to-the-business in dense city areas with bringing fibre inside homes and apartments, the operator said via a press release. This will allow the roll-out of fibre-to-the-home to be done at an acceptable cost in these areas.
“By investing €3 billion in the national roll-out of this future-proof next generation network, we will allow our customers to fully capture the opportunities of the digital era, bringing download and upload speeds in Belgium to an unprecedented level. Fibre offers customers the ultimate broadband experience to surf, stream, game and work at the speed of light. When we say that we’re going to accelerate the deployment of fibre in Belgium, we really mean it! Every minute, we will cover an extra home with fibre,” said Dominique Leroy, CEO of Proximus.
Customers living outside dense city areas will not be forgotten, the operator asserts. Proximus will continue to improve its existing fibre-to-the-curb network, bringing fibre closer to the customer and rolling out next-generation VDSL to boost performance.
Commenting on the announcement, Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium, said: “For Belgium, it’s great news to hear that Proximus will invest in the roll-out of optical fibre, because highly performing telecom networks have become essential for the economic, social and cultural development of every country.”
Alexander De Croo, Minister of Telecom, added: “The roll-out of fibre is an essential step in our aim to bring Belgium in the European top three of the most advanced digital countries by 2020. The Digital Belgium action plan wants to facilitate the investments in Fibre in order to obtain a broadband speed of 1 Gbps for half of the Belgian households by 2020 and to meet the European 100 Mbps speed target for all households by 2025.”