“At last we have a minister who has made a clear statement for 5G and has clearly and unequivocally stated that she is going to start the auction. I call on her not to waste a day so that the auction can take place as soon as possible". That is what Marc Lambotte, CEO of Agoria, said after Telecommunications Minister Petra De Sutter stated that the legal and practical details of the auction will take at least another six months to work out.

Exactly one year ago, Agoria and consultancy firm Capgemini Invent published the first major study on 5G in Belgian industry. It showed that half of the industrial manufacturing companies in our country believe that 5G can contribute to a more efficient and flexible organisation of production. 5G is superfast mobile Internet and the successor of 4G. Meanwhile, about 30 projects are already underway with temporary and test 5G licenses. For example, tests are being carried out by manufacturing and chemical companies in the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge. Meanwhile, about 5 operators are working with 5G licenses. In addition to the three mobile operators, Cegeka and Citymesh also have (temporary) 5G licences. However, the lack of a sustainable regulatory framework means that the necessary investments are not being made. Companies with production sites in Belgium and other countries, such as the United States and Germany, fear that this 5G-driven investment train might pass our country by. 

The second blocking factor for 5G, in addition to the delay on the auction, is the far too strict emission standards. In Brussels, 5G is simply impossible. Agoria reiterates its call for emission standards to be brought in line with the level of neighbouring countries in accordance with WHO and European Commission guidelines. 

Compared to the recommendations of the ICNIRP and the WHO, the regional standards in Belgium are: 

  • 4 times stricter in Flanders
  • over 4 times stricter in Wallonia (standard per antenna)
  • 50 times stricter in Brussels

In view of the technical requirements imposed by 5G technology and in order to be able to exploit its full potential, the standards should be reviewed to enable its deployment. Given the safety margins adopted by the regional entities, such a revision seems realistic while allowing the precautionary principle to be observed.

5G will be crucial to the economic recovery. According to an international study conducted by Capgemini Invent, 75% of multinational companies believe that 5G offers enormous potential for numerous new innovations and is a major stimulus for digital transformation. As the successor to 4G, 5G offers not only a much faster connection, but also faster response time, increased reliability and the ability to connect many more devices. These benefits are of great importance for industry and commerce. The interview with Minister De Sutter in De Tijd today gives Agoria hope that our country will not miss the 5G investment train.