The Belgian government has confirmed plans to sell a fourth 3G licence to a new entrant in an effort to boost competition in the market. The fourth operator could theoretically start offering services as early as 2010. Local cable players such as Telenet and Voo are expected to consider submitting an offer, separately or together. Managing a mobile offering would help cable operators compete with incumbent Belgacom which has strong multiple play offerings.
The Belgian mobile market is reaching near saturation and has a relatively low churn rate, partially thanks to the absence of contract subsidies on new handsets. Value added services are harder to roll out on lower-end devices and with a total subscriber base of 11m, it is difficult to justify the heavy investments necessary for a new player to deploy a 3G network. The biggest question therefore remains as to whether cable operators will choose to invest in a new network or stay with the MVNO model they currently use to provide mobile services.