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General questions about fibre

With optical fibre a light beam is transmitted through a very thin glass fibre. By switching this light on and off briefly, information can be transmitted through the fibre. You will find more info on how fibre works on this page.

Optical fibre has a large bandwidth and is very reliable. This ensures that you can surf smoothly while your housemates watch TV, play games online, watch videos, ... all at the same time. You can find a more elaborate outline on this page.

No, fibre cables do not cause radiation: as the information is sent through the optical fibre by means of light and not electric current, no electromagnetic fields or radiation are generated.

This also means that optical fibre itself is not subject to interference from electrical radiation, rendering optical fibre more reliable than other forms of cabling.

Questions about the availability and price of fibre

Different operators are actively rolling out optical fibre in Belgium. However, as this project will take years, not everybody will have optical fibre right away. Via the fibre map you can check whether optical fibre has already been rolled out in your street or not. You will also find the list including possible operators with whom you can request a fibre optics connection there.

No luck yet? Fibre is not yet available at your home? You can also check the fibre map to see whether optical fibre roll-out is in the immediate pipeline or not. Do bear in mind that not all operators have announced their plans for the future yet. The fibre map is updated regularly.

The price depends on the operator chosen and the service chosen (for instance, is TV included, what is the maximum download speed, etc.). You can find a survey of the rates on BIPT’s tariff comparison tool. This website gathers all existing tariff plans and gives you a clear view.

In some cases a fee is charged for introducing the optical fibre in the home as well. The best thing is to inquire with your operator in charge of the connection. You will sometimes get a discount when switching to fibre upon roll-out of fibre in the street.

In general, Belgium has a good fixed networks coverage: 99.1% of the households has access to speeds of at least 30 Mbps and 97.2% to speeds of at least 100 Mbps. This does mean that there are still areas in which Internet connectivity is limited. If operators in those areas do not intend to renew their network or do not plan a roll-out there, these areas are called “white areas”. The areas with a lower coverage can be consulted on Atlas, the network coverage map the BIPT has developed.

The areas where there is no proper Internet connectivity today are not very attractive for an operator as these are for instance thinly populated. Therefore an operator will be less inclined to roll out fibre in those areas as the costs are often too high compared to the number of customers that can be reached.

In such white areas adequate measures might be required to ensure that an operator does roll out his network there. Possible options are:

  • Adaptations in the regulatory framework: The BIPT for instance tries to encourage investments in white areas by temporarily relieving the obligations imposed on a number of operators in those white areas where they would invest.
  • Use of government means: Today, the German-speaking Community is for instance looking into a form of state aid to provide the citizens with fibre connectivity. In addition, the national broadband plan presented by Minister De Sutter also provides for the means to stimulate investments in connectivity in white areas as of 2022.

For the end-user it can be useful to look into all alternatives:

  • If you do not have access to a proper connection through the copper network, you may have access to a proper connection through the cable operators’ networks and vice versa.
  • Mobile coverage in Belgium is even better than fixed coverage. Some operators offer FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) through the mobile network: this means that you install a device that translates mobile 4G (and later 5G) Internet into a fixed connection at your home. Such a service can be a solution if you do have mobile coverage at your home. Examples are Tadaam by Telenet or Orange’s Home Flybox. The speed and quality of Internet over FWA can be lower than Internet over a fixed network.
  • In addition, there is satellite Internet as well. The rates for fully-fledged satellite Internet may, however, be higher than for a standard Internet connection.

Questions about the roll-out of fibre to your home

A telecom operator is entitled to install fibre on a façade. You cannot prevent him from doing this. He does have to meet a number of terms to do so. For instance, the contractor has to inform you in advance about how and when he will install fibre. If you do not agree with this, you can then consult with the operator. For more information, see this page.

You will find a detailed description on this page.

The fibre has to be introduced inside your home and be rolled out until what is called the network termination point installed by your operator.

Are you building/renovating a house and do you have to span part of a private property? In that case it might be recommended to provide for a duct between the building line and the house (right up to the point where you want the network termination point). Take pictures in order to find the exact location of this duct later upon roll-out of the fibre. Make sure that the duct is installed sufficiently deep, has a smooth interior surface and is equipped with a cable puller. Also make sure that the duct does not have strong bends as fibre is sensitive to that.

At the time of connection, the network termination point and the modem are linked. The latter is then connected to the interior cabling that you have provided for yourself (or your operator has helped you with) or to a Wi-Fi router transmitting a wireless Wi-Fi signal. There should consequently be a number of sockets available near the network termination point. How the installation is done at your home in practice and what the terms are, varies from operator to operator. The best thing would be for you to contact your operator or consult his website.

Do you live in an apartment? In this case the building has to be made “broadband ready” when newly constructed or upon major renovations. You will find more information on this page.

It seems, admittedly, not efficient to install a fibre connection in your home if one is already present. Nevertheless, this is comparable with the situation where you have both a copper (telephone) and coax (television) connection in your home, so that as a customer you have more options for your telecom services. For you as a consumer having an extra fibre connection therefore means that you can make maximum use of the available offer and profit from competition, not only now, but also in the future.

Questions about termination of services over the copper line/telephone line

Proximus, the only provider of infrastructure for Internet through copper lines (or telephone lines) is actively rolling out his fibre network. This fibre network has many advantages (higher speeds, lower maintenance costs, more environmentally friendly, ...) compared to the copper network. In the areas where Proximus is rolling out his fibre network, the operator intends to stop the copper services within 5 years at the most, or Proximus can decide at an earlier stage to stop replacing the copper lines in case of damage or works along the road. This discontinuation also applies to the operators providing services through Proximus’s copper network.

Please note that, for the time being, Proximus does not intend to discontinue the copper network in the FTTB zones (areas that Proximus identified as Fibre-to-the-Business in which the operator only connects business customers to fibre).

An operator is allowed to stop services provided that he complies with the terms and conditions. If changing to fibre causes a change of contract (such as a higher price) the operator has an obligation to inform his end-customers no later than one month before that change takes effect and to offer them the opportunity to stop the subscription free of charge.

This applies to private end-users. For business contracts the contractual terms apply.

If the operator discontinues your copper line, this usually means that there is fibre available in the neighbourhood: so this means that there is an alternative.

However, you are not obliged to stay with the same operator, you are free to change operators. The fact is that in case of a change of contract the operator has an obligation to inform his end-customers no later than one month before that change takes effect and to offer them the opportunity to stop the subscription free of charge.

With the BIPT’s tariff comparison tool it is easy to compare different operators and with Easy Switch you can easily make the switch. However, if you received a device free of charge or at a discount upon subscription, you do have to pay the residual value of that device. You will find more info regarding this on this page of the BIPT website.

In principle, the same services are available with fibre as they are with copper, and they are provided at higher speeds.

There might be issues regarding the connection of old devices such as old alarm systems that are also powered through the copper cable. This will require an adaptation (for instance purchasing a battery) and it is recommended to contact your operator or this equipment’s provider.

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