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Orange Belgium obtains maximum amount of key 5G spectrum

Orange Belgium obtained the maximum amount of key 5G spectrum available in the auction, allowing it to provide outstanding coverage and capacity for future 5G services.

Furthermore, it announces the phasing out of 3G services from mid-2023

In the main phase of the auctions on mobile spectrum organized by the BIPT, Orange Belgium has obtained the maximum amount of the new 5G spectrum bands available for auction: 20 MHz in the 700 MHz band and 100 MHz in the 3.6 GHz band. In total, Orange Belgium acquired 200 MHz of spectrum, at a unique license fee amount of 322 Mio€.

Orange Belgium also confirms the start of its phasing out of 3G technology by mid-2023, optimizing the use of its spectrum by relying on more secure, resilient, energy efficient and modern technologies.

Providing high-quality coverage and capacity for 5G network

After this phase of the auction, Orange Belgium will have spectrum rights for 2X10 MHz in 700 MHz, 2X10 MHz in 900 MHz, 2X15 MHz in 1800 MHz, 2X15 MHz in 2100 MHz, and 100 MHz in 3.6 GHz spectrum. The total amount of the unique license fees is 322 Mio€ for a period of 20 years.

The additional spectrum, the maximum with respect to the new 5G frequencies, will allow Orange Belgium to ensure a high-quality coverage coupled with a high capacity for its advanced mobile network for its residential and business customers. The spectrum obtained in the auction provides Orange Belgium with the means to realise its 5G ambitions, while it will also ensure it can provide optimal 4G services.

During the next steps of the auction, the exact positioning of the obtained spectrum bands must still be defined and following this phase an additional auction for the 1400 MHz spectrum will take place.

Towards a more sustainable and efficient network

To further optimize the efficiency of its spectrum use, Orange Belgium will also start the phasing out of the 3G technology on its network as from mid-2023, for a definitive switch-off of 3G in 2025. Its 2G technology will remain until end of 2028. Orange Belgium guarantees the continuity of its 4G technology that covers nearly 100% of the Belgian population.

Switching off legacy technologies such as 3G and 2G is an opportunity for Orange Belgium to provide more efficient, sustainable, and value-added experiences towards its customers.

Only a very small number of residential Orange Belgium customers are still using phones that don’t support 4G or 5G in 2025 and may need support to migrate. Orange Belgium will closely accompany all these customers. For IoT customers, we will also build migration paths and ensure a smooth transition. Orange Belgium also still has several complementary technologies: 4G LTE-M and NB-IoT, 5G.

Xavier Pichon, CEO of Orange Belgium, comments: “The spectrum obtained will allow us to implement our 5G ambitions and deploy innovative and future technologies to continue providing the best experience to our customers in an efficient and sustainable way. The 4G and 5G technologies provide unparalleled customer experience in terms of voice quality, data performance, in limiting CO2 emissions, in IoT capabilities and soon in terms of coverage of 5G. As a next generation telecom operator, we seize this opportunity to optimize the management of our network, upgrade it to more secure, resilient, energy efficient and modern technologies, namely, 4G and 5G that are now operating in most of European countries and stay true to our customer obsession.”

Stefan Slavnicu, Chief Network Officer at Orange Belgium, who is leading the project adds: “By phasing out 3G technology we are getting rid of obsolete equipment that consumes a lot of electricity, space and human energy to maintain. 3G data represents today less than 2% of the total data traffic on the network. With this move, we will have networks that are software-based, resilient and automated, ready for future evolutions. By planning that evolution well in advance, we minimise the impact on our customers, and finally on the planet, with the recycling of network equipment and the refurbishing of mobile devices, as well as the commercialization of last generation eco-designed terminals.”

CT Bureau

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