The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) put a planned network joint venture between Proximus and Orange Belgium on hold until mid-March, to allow further examination following competition concerns raised by rival Telenet Group.
Its move suspends a sharing deal struck in July 2019 and a related shareholder agreement until 16 March. In a statement, the regulator stated the decision was to enable it to assess the “potential impact on competition”.
The Belgian authority’s decision halts the transfer of staff between the companies, but does not impact requests for proposals relating to the acquisition of network equipment. However, the deal between Proximus and Orange will also be examined by the Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunications (BIPT).
Telenet stated the BCA decision was “a step in the right direction, but it remains important that the BCA and the BIPT now carry out further thorough investigations into the joint venture, taking into account the objections that Telenet has already announced. The investigation regarding the merits of the case will continue in any case”.
Proximus and Orange Belgium plan to build a shared mobile access network in the country, operated by a 50:50 joint venture, with the aim of improving coverage and speeding rollout of 5G technology.
In November 2019 Proximus stated its rival Telenet had withdrawn from talks to participate in the shared network arrangement, before filing a complaint regarding the potential competitive impact. -Mobile World Live