BRUSSELS Feb 11 Belgian telecoms operator
Belgacom launched a commercial high-speed mobile
network in Brussels On Tuesday, ending months of regulatory
wrangling which left the Belgian and European capital without
fast data access.
A new law that take effect in March eases environmental
rules regulating radio emissions in the capital. The rules were
among the strictest in the world and made the roll-out of fourth
generation (4G) mobile services impossible.
Not being able to tap the lucrative Brussels market, which
with its many European institutions and corporate headquarters
generates about 25 percent of the data traffic in the country,
was a major brake on the 4G ambitions of the mobile providers.
"Brussels is very important for us as there are 1.1 million
inhabitants and 300,000 commuters, the European institutions and
NATO, and having 4G here is very important," Belgacom Chief
Executive Dominique Leroy told a news conference in Brussels.
Belgacom's 4G network will initially only cover the Brussels
suburbs. A full roll-out of the fast networks, which offer
speeds some four times faster than current technology, will
start once the new law is in place and will take until the end
of 2015 to complete.
KPN's BASE, the only Belgian operator apart from
Belgacom with a commercial 4G network in place, was not
available to comment on when it would launch services in the
Mobistar, Belgium's second largest mobile phone
operator, has not yet launched a commercial 4G network.
4G services enable ultra-fast mobile data traffic, allowing
users for example to watch television on smartphones, tablets or
laptops at a quality similar to that of a fixed line.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek)