Fourth operator joins Belgian market after €1.2bn multi-band auction

The new market player, Citymesh Mobile, secured spectrum in all the bands on offer and has joined forces with Romanian operator Digi to become a fully-fledged mobile operator.
| Laura Sear

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The auction started on 1 June with the 700 MHz and 3.6 GHz bands. Citymesh Mobile, Network Research Belgium, Orange Belgium, Proximus and Telenet took part. The new market entrant secured 50 MHz in the 3.6 GHz band and 2 x 5 MHz in the 700 MHz band. The three established operators all acquired 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum for 5G. Telenet bid for a smaller block of 2 x 5 MHz in the 700 MHz band.

The auction also included existing 2G and 3G frequencies (900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz).

Bands wdt_ID Bidder Total Gross Winning Bids Bandwith
900 MHz 1 Orange Belgium 56.720.800 EUR 2 x 10 MHz
900 MHz 2 Proximus 57.410.800 EUR 2 x 10 MHz
900 MHz 3 Telenet 57.410.800 EUR 2 x 10 MHz
3.6 GHz 5 Telenet 55.800.000 EUR 100 MHz
1800 MHz 6 Citymesh Mobile 27.000.000 EUR 2 x 15 MHz
1800 MHz 7 Orange Belgium 27.000.000 EUR 2 x 15 MHz
900 MHz 8 Citymesh Mobile 28.005.000 EUR 2 x 5 MHz
1800 MHz 9 Proximus 109.880.000 EUR 2 x 25 MHz
2100 MHz 10 Citymesh Mobile 9.000.000 EUR 2 x 5 MHz
2100 MHz 11 Orange Belgium 60.030.000 EUR 2 x 15 MHz
2100 MHz 12 Proximus 144.590.000 EUR 2 x 25 MHz
2100 MHz 13 Telenet 60.420.000 EUR 2 x 15 MHz
700 MHz 14 Citymesh Mobile 19.335.000 EUR 2 x 5 MHz
700 MHz 15 Orange Belgium 122.860.000 EUR 2 x 10 MHz
700 MHz 16 Proximus 122.870.000 EUR 2 x 10 MHz
700 MHz 17 Telenet 21.340.000 EUR 2 x 5 MHz
3.6 GHz 18 Citymesh Mobile 30.990.000 EUR 50 MHz
3.6 GHz 19 Orange Belgium 54.850.000 EUR 100 MHz
3.6 GHz 20 Proximus 56.320.000 EUR 100 MHz
1800 MHz 21 Telenet 69.390.000 EUR 2 x 20 MHz
3.6 GHz 22 Network Research Belgium 10.970.000 EUR 20 MHz

Citymesh is currently focused on private networks. With its newly acquired spectrum, the company plans to develop a country-wide network. After the auction, the company announced its new partnership with the Romanian telecommunications group Digi.

“Citymesh already delivers mobile services to the business market,” said chief executive Mitch De Geest. “Thanks to the additional spectrum, Citymesh can start offering a hybrid mobile strategy, roaming from private to a public network and back.”

After almost 25 years, the arrival of the joint venture turns the country into a more competitive, four-operator market. The Belgian regulator set up a newcomers-only first round to bid for a package of spectrum in various bands, in the hope of attracting a new operator and diversifying the market.

A recent European Commission report said the country’s mobile market was lagging behind those of its EU counterparts. The last new market player, KPN Orange (the predecessor of BASE/Telenet), joined the fray in 1998.

This is the second time that Digi has unexpectedly shown up at a European 5G auction. Last year, the company bought its way into the market at the Portuguese auction. The joint venture with Citymesh plans to build 3,500—4,000 antennas over the next five years.

According to BIPT, the last phase of the auction, the 1400 MHz round, will start after the specific frequency blocks of the main round are assigned. Only three applications were submitted for this last phase. The 1400 MHz band is suitable for supplemental downlink capacity. The total reserve price for the 90 MHz of spectrum on offer is €46.5 million•

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