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BIPT Looks At Extending 2G, 3G Licences, Allowing Private 5G Networks

Belgian regulator BIPT announced a public consultation on mobile spectrum, including 5G bands and existing 2G and 3G licences. Market parties are invited to comment on the legislative proposals for opening up the 3.4-3.6 GHz band for 5G and allowing private networks in the 3.8-4.2 GHz range. In addition, the regulator is looking at extending the existing 2G and 3G licences beyond the current expiry date of March 2021, due to delays in organising a new auction.

The consultation is open for comment until 29 January 2020. The final decisions would be implemented by royal decree.

BIPT started working back in 2017 on plans for a spectrum auction, to redistribute the 900, 1,800 and 2,100 MHz bands used for 2G and 3G services as well as release the 700 MHz band for 5G. The initial plan was approved by the federal cabinet in July 2018, but the different regional governments in Belgium have been unable to reach agreement on the details. An agreement has been further hampered by delays in forming a new federal government since the elections in May 2019. The proposed decree would allow BIPT to extend the existing licences under the same conditions and fees, until the auction can be held.

The latest consultation also looks at the 3.5 GHz band, another ‘pioneer’ band for 5G. BIPT wants feedback on setting licence fees for the 3.4-3.8 GHz range and reorganising the 3.4-3.6 GHz range into blocks large enough to support the roll-out of 5G. This proposal was approved by the cabinet back in July 2018 as well, but has yet to be implemented in a decree.

In addition, the BIPT’s consultation looks at the possibility of authorising local 4G or 5G networks for industrial applications in the 3.8-4.2 GHz range, similar to what has happened recently in Germany. This could be implemented also through a royal decree.―Telecompaper

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