Belgium hints at new licences to boost competition

Reuters reports the Belgian government has hinted that it could issue eight telecoms licences next year - including a new 3G licence - in a bid to boost competition in the sector

'The agreement within the government is that we want to break open the market,' said business minister Vincent Van Quickenborne in an interview with Belgian daily De Tijd.

Van Quickenborne said the country's fourth 3G license will be awarded next year and is valued at €40 million. He added that a number of companies have already expressed interest in the licence, including local broadband provider, Telenet.

Other licences are expected to be issued for the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum bands, which are suitable for WiMAX and LTE.

European Union telecom regulators have repeatedly criticised the lack of competition in the Belgian market, citing the dominance of incumbent Belgacom - which is still partly state-owned - in the fixed-line and mobile spheres.