• FAQ

    All you need to know about 5G

    5G is introduced in Belgium in keeping with the European guidelines. With the 5G Action Plan for Europe the European Commission suggested a coordinated roll-out of 5G as early as 2016. The European Union designated three preferential frequency bands for the 5G technology: 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz. The European Electronic Communications Code, approved by the European Parliament and the Council (in which also Belgium is represented by the competent minister) and which had to be transposed into Belgian law by 21 December 2020, imposed a specific schedule on the Member States for the introduction of 5G in these frequency bands.
    This schedule is binding. By the end of June 2020 the deadline for making the 700 MHz band available expired, the period of validity of the user rights for the other pioneer bands had to end by 31 December 2020 at the latest.

    The introduction in Belgium was the result of a long democratic process. This was initiated by the BIPT with the publication of its communication of 10 September 2018 regarding the introduction of 5G in Belgium. Next, the BIPT published different public consultations on the legislative texts. In July 2018 the then federal Council of Ministers adopted the draft texts organising the 3400-3800 MHz band auction for the first time. Prior to proceeding to an auction, the Consultation Committee, the body for the alignment of the different Belgian governments’ policies, has to come to an agreement regarding this.

    At the same time as the deliberations in the Consultation Committee, the federal Parliament was informed as well. On 11 December 2019 a hearing regarding the 5G roll-out took place and a topical debate on 5 February.

    In the absence of a political agreement and with the European deadline for the introduction of 5G in sight, the BIPT initiated a procedure for the granting of temporary user rights in a part of the 3600 MHz band for the provision of 5G. Early 2020, the BIPT launched a call for candidates. The draft decision for the granting of the temporary licences to the candidate operators (Cegeka, Entropia Investments BVBA, Orange Belgium, Proximus and Telenet Group), including the terms and conditions for use, such as the technical requirements, the fees due, the validity of the licence ... was published for public consultation on 23 March 2020. 

    On 22 January 2021, the federal Council of Ministers reviewed the 5G case and ratified a bill and a number of Royal Decrees enabling the auction of 5G rights in our country following the approval of, among others, the Consultation Committee. 

    On 26 May 2021 the Consultation Committee already approved the bill, which was adopted in the Chamber’s plenary assembly on 17 June and was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 6 July 2021.

    Following this, a public consultation was held from 16 July until 31 August 2021 on the Royal Decrees further implementing the multiband auction during which 5G user rights shall be put up for auction as well.

    On November 24, 2021, the consultation committee gave its final approval regarding the royal decrees for the auction of 5G spectrum. After the publication of the royal decrees on 23 December 2021, BIPT has started with the preparations for the auction, and the auction itself.

    On 20 July 2022 the BIPT concluded the final phase of the radio spectrum auction.

  • FAQ

    The public will not be able to use 5G after the auction's end.

    he roll-out of 5G networks requires private companies to invest in network infrastructure. Consequently, the introduction of 5G in Belgium is not only defined by the availability of spectrum but by the willingness of providers to invest in 5G as well.

  • FAQ

    If you wish to improve the outdoor coverage, in your garden or on the terrace of your restaurant by means of a Wi-Fi router outside, you need to know that only the 2400-2483,5 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz frequency bands are allowed.

    The other bands may only be used for indoor installations.

  • FAQ

    Installing a Wi-Fi repeater is not an ideal solution.

    In practice, an older repeater model will halve the maximum speed of your Internet connection.

    Apart from that a Wi-Fi repeater should always be placed at a location where the signal is still good.

  • FAQ

    If these tips are not helpful you can install a technical solution to strengthen the Wi-Fi signal.

    The operators also offer such solutions (sometimes for free): therefore you can ask your operator for information about this.

    There are various technical options:

    Replace the modem

    You may still have an older modem. Consult with your operator if it would be useful to have it replaced by a more recent model.

    Newer types also support Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), for instance. This wireless technology uses multiple transmitters and receivers to transfer more data simultaneously. This technology will not only considerably increase the speed, but also benefit the range and robustness of the connection in multipath surroundings. In radio communications a multipath refers to the phenomenon resulting in radio signals reaching the antenna through two or more paths. A multipath can be caused by reflection of the signal through reflective surfaces (metal partitions, buildings, water surfaces, ...).  

    Install a Wi-Fi repeater

    This device retransmits the Wi-Fi signal to extend the range.

    The installation is very simple: all you have to do is plug in the repeater at a location where the modem’s Wi-Fi signal is still strong enough to be retransmitted. However, if the retransmitted signal is of inferior quality (too much interference or too weak for instance) at the location of the repeater, using a repeater will not produce a good result either. If the repeater does not deliver the desired result, place it a little closer to the modem. 
    In older repeater models the available speed is halved for devices connected to the repeater. 

    Set up a Wi-Fi mesh network

    In case of mesh systems a single main router is connected to your modem. This main router forwards the signal to the accompanying modules or “satellites” (minimum of 2). The Wi-Fi signal is communicated among all those modules to form a single Wi-Fi network. 

    This solution is ideal for locations where there is no Ethernet cable and the Wi-Fi signal is not strong enough. You only need a cable that connects your modem to the main satellite. Next you place the other modules where you want a better range and the system will configure itself.

    Install an extra access point

    A “Wi-Fi hotspot” or access point is an additional wireless access point to connect equipment to the Wi-Fi, at a location where your modem’s Wi-Fi coverage is insufficient. The access point is connected to the modem by means of a network cable or through a PLC adapter (“powerline”, “powerline homeplugs”). This results in optimum speed and a stable signal.

    In the case of PLC adapters  there are models with a built-in Wi-Fi access point.  At least 2 are needed: one to plug in near your modem and a second one to plug in where you want to extend the range of the Wi-Fi signal. Combined they ensure that the Internet signal is sent from A to B. Unfortunately it may happen that the signal does not optimally reach the second powerline adapter, thus lowering the speed. There is no guarantee that you will always reach the highest speed.

    Caution: Other ways, such as amplifying the Wi-Fi signal through either an external repeater or by replacing the router’s antenna, are prohibited.

  • FAQ

    With these tips you can do something about that.

    Modem and router

    No Internet without a modem and router.

    • A modem translates the signal your operator injects through cable, ADSL or fibre into a signal that your PC, smart TV etc. can read, thus ensuring the Internet connection.
    • The modem transmits the Internet signal to the router which distributes that signal across different devices.
      The modem and router functionalities are often combined in one single device.

    Place your modem (which generally also includes the Wi-Fi router) in the best spot.

    The best spot is:

    • Central: the further away you are from the transmitter, the weaker the signal;
    • As high as possible;
    • Away from obstacles: the signal circulates better when the modem is situated on a cleared spot. The walls and doors are also obstacles between you and the modem that transmits the Wi-Fi signal;
    • Away from other specific devices: electronic equipment operating on radio signals, such as baby alarms, weather stations, cordless telephones ..., can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal. Make sure there is a minimum distance of 30 cm between such equipment and your modem. Better still: switch them off if you use the Wi-Fi connection. 

    Change the frequency band

    Another Wi-Fi channel can result in a bigger Internet range. Three frequency bands are currently available to transmit Wi-Fi signals:

    • 2.4 GHz (2400-2483.5 MHz): this frequency band is used a lot, so that there is much traffic on this network. This sometimes results in a slower connection. By contrast this band has the advantage that the signals travel further and penetrate obstacles such as walls, floors ... more easily;
    • 5.0 GHz (5150-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz): in general this network is more stable because there is less interference from other equipment. Considering the available bandwidth this band allows for a much bigger capacity compared to the 2.4 GHz. This band is supported by most, but not all receivers. Moreover, this frequency band has the disadvantage that the distance the signals can travel is smaller than in the 2.4 GHz band. The higher the frequency band, the more difficult it is for signals to penetrate through obstacles;
    • 6 GHz (5945-6425 MHz):  This frequency band provides a higher bitrate, a shorter response time and better management of the connections in case of a high density of users, as for public hotspots. To fully benefit from its use, compatible equipment is required however. (more information)

    Change the Wi-Fi channel

    Wi-Fi routers distribute the signal across various devices. In principle they automatically select a channel for the Wi-Fi network. However, you can improve the Wi-Fi signal by selecting a channel manually, e.g. if the neighbours are using the same channel (which could interfere with your connection). 

    The 2.4 GHz frequency band has 13 channels with a bandwidth of 20 MHz. Choose another channel in case of interference.

    The 5 GHz frequency band has 23 channels with a bandwidth of 20 MHz. The channels above 5.47 GHz (with numbers starting from 100) are the most powerful, but they are not suited for all types of equipment. These channels can be combined in order to obtain 160 MHz (two channels of 160 MHz maximum as this frequency band is divided into different sections). 

    The new 6 GHz band is divided into seven channels with a bandwidth of 160 MHz and 14 more traditional 80 MHz channels. Here compatible devices (and routers) are required as well.

    The available Wi-Fi channels can be scanned and measured with specific software, such as a “Wi-Fi Analyzer” for Android, or “inSSIDer” for Windows and “Network Analyzer” for iOS.

    On your operator’s website an explanation is given on how to select a different Wi-Fi channel.

    Could my equipment be the cause of the problem?

    Older tablets, PCs, smartphones ... slow down your Wi-Fi connection. Avoid connecting your Wi-Fi to devices that are older than 5 years. Not only will the Wi-Fi work slower for this device, it also has an impact on the performance of other, more recent devices that use the Wi-Fi.
    If you want to use older equipment anyway, do not connect it to the Wi-Fi, but use an Ethernet cable instead (at least Cat. 5 or 6). In any case an Ethernet cable will offer a faster and more reliable connection than Wi-Fi for any device.

    Before buying new devices, you should also check whether they at least support the Wi-Fi 5 standard (802.11ac) and maximum the Wi-Fi 6 or 6E standard (802.11ax). The recent Wi-Fi 6E uses the same technology as Wi-Fi 6 but makes use of the 6 GHz band and allows for more broadband connections at the same time.

    Attention: the Wi-Fi 6E frequency bands in Europe differ from those in the United States so always check whether the equipment is indeed suited for use in Europe before your purchase.

    Do not simultaneously connect too many devices to the Wi-Fi either, in order not to overload the network; if necessary opt for “wired” Internet and use an Ethernet cable. If that is not possible, you can use an Ethernet adapter, which will then enable you to connect an Ethernet cable by way of a USB port.

  • FAQ

    A wireless local area network allows you to interconnect your devices and radio waves enable the rapid exchange of data.

    The term “Wi-Fi” was coined to get a simpler term to refer to the standards of the group IEEE 802.11, which are the ones used for wireless networks. Since 1999, several versions have followed one another, improving the quality of data transmitted per second, the signal range or the connection quality. The latest publicly accessible version is called Wi-Fi 6 (the official name of the standard is “IEEE 802.11ax”).

    Several devices are already compatible with Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E; these are very recent. Concerning your modem/router, there will be some time before this technology is included. At present, the Wi-Fi signal transmitted by your modem/router uses two frequency bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz):

    • 2.4 GHz: This frequency band, shared by numerous types of use, enables the transmission of signals over long distances and is not affected by barriers created by walls or floors;
    • 5 GHz: This frequency band is more stable and faster. Regarding data transmission, it has more and broader channels: there are 13 channels of 20 MHz or 40 MHz on 2.4 GHz. On 5 GHz, there are 13 channels of 20, 40 and 80 MHz. Most receivers are compatible with this band, which is a bit more sensitive to the presence of obstacles than the 2.4 GHz band.

    Wi-Fi 6 also uses these frequency bands. In the next development, Wi-Fi 6E (E meaning “extended”) will add the 6 GHz band.

    Compared with the previous versions, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offer:

    • A higher speed (channels up to 120 MHz);
    • A shorter response time;
    • A better connection management in case of high user density (when a large number of users are simultaneously connected to the same network, at the same location).

    With the addition of the 6 GHz band and its 480 MHz of additional bandwidth, Wi-Fi 6E will offer more frequencies and a higher speed (up to 11 Gbps in theory).

    Last but not least, it better manages the active and sleep status of connected devices. Less strain will be put on the batteries of smartphones, tablets and laptops and they will thus last longer.

    The transition to Wi-Fi 6E will not be mandatory. Current devices, even if they do not have access to the new band, can still be used without any problems.

  • FAQ

    My operator has been granted a derogation regarding roaming. What does that mean?

    Operators have the right to submit an application to BIPT to receive a derogation allowing them to apply roaming surcharges in the European Union (and associated countries: Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein).

    Currently no Belgian operator has been granted such a derogation.

    Surcharges applied pursuant to such a derogation may not exceed the following amounts: 

    What you do How much you pay
    (VAT included)
    You call Maximum 3.8 eurocents per call minute on top of the domestic tariff
    You receive a call Maximum 0.94 eurocent per call minute
    You send an SMS Maximum 1.2 eurocent per SMS on top of the domestic tariff
    You receive an SMS No surcharge possible
    You surf the Internet Maximum 0.34 eurocent per megabyte on top of the domestic tariff

  • FAQ

    Once Brexit enters into force, i.e. on 1 January 2021,the European regulatory framework, which results in low wholesale call termination rates, will no longer apply to UE service providers for communications between the EU and the United Kingdom, as of the date of withdrawal. This could lead to higher wholesale tariffs for the termination of calls from the EU to the United Kingdom.

  • FAQ

    Certain operators have offers that include applications of which the consumption is not deducted from the data volume.

    That practice, often called “zero-rating”, is not explicitly regulated by the net neutrality rules.

    One part of the net neutrality rules generally specifies that Internet traffic should be treated in the same way. 

    It was clear that this meant that it is forbidden to allow zero-rating applications to continue at the normal speed, whereas other traffic was blocked or throttled (e.g. because the data volume in the bundle was used up). 

    But whether that rule also applied to a different way of billing, without blocking or throttling in an unequal way, was not clear. 

    The European Court of Justice has ruled that this is the case. 

    Zero-rating offers for certain applications are therefore unlawful and have to be adapted. 

    If the adaptation is to your disadvantage, you have the right to cancel your contract free of charge.

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