Belgian operators to establish new joint venture; Orange expects to save €300 million over 10 years

Belgacom and Orange Belgium have agreed to enter into network-sharing arrangement by the end of this year.

The deal covers 2G, 3G, 4G and of course 5G technologies. The combined access networks will be managed by a new 50:50 joint venture, due to become operational from the first quarter of 2020.

"This agreement aims to allow the two companies to meet customers’ growing demand in terms of mobile network quality and indoor coverage," said Orange, in a statement.

Orange said it expects the deal to generate €300 million in cumulative capex and opex savings over 10 years. Implementing the network-sharing arrangement is expected to cost around €130 million over the next three years.

Orange and Belgacom will continue to maintain independent control over their own spectrum, and operate their own core networks.

Orange said that sharing infrastructure with Belgacom will facilitate a rapid and comprehensive 5G deployment.

That’s all well and good, but with 5G spectrum yet to be auctioned, and related health concerns given greater prominence in Belgium than perhaps in other countries, Orange and Belgacom are unlikely to begin rolling out next-gen mobile services until some time next year at the earliest.