Belgian 5G roll-out faces delay as regional governments unable to agree on auction

Belgium's regional and federal governments have failed to reach an agreement on the planned auction of 5G spectrum licences. The latest meeting of the coordinating committee could not reach a deal on the division of proceeds from the auction, meaning the issue will likely be put off until after elections at the end of May and the formation of a new government, De Tijd reports.

The regional governments have been calling for a greater share of the expected proceeds of EUR 650-700 million. Auction proceeds are normally split 80 percent for the federal government and 20 percent for the regions. However, as 5G is expected to facilitate greater use of media services, and the regions are responsible for media policy, they want a greater share of the licence proceeds than for 4G spectrum.

The responsible federal minister, Philippe de Backer said he was disappointed in the outcome of the meeting and it would be up to the next administration to take the matter further. He said the group looked at various options, but none resulted in agreement. As a result, the roll-out of 5G is likely to be delayed in Belgium.

Without an agreement by the coordinating committee, the necessary legislation cannot be implemented to organise the auction. Following the elections in May, new federal and regional governments will need to be formed before the committee can meet again. This is expected to several months due to the fragmented nature of the political scene in Belgium; the current government coalition took nearly five months after the election to reach an agreement.

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