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Citymesh competes to become the full-fledged fourth telecom operator


The Belgian telecom operator Citymesh, which joined forces with the IT company Cegeka last year, is applying for the entire spectrum package that is reserved for a fourth operator in the auction. With this, the company wants to become a fully-fledged fourth operator, where it can also offer its expertise on the consumer market.

After the joining of forces between IT company Cegeka and telecom player Citymesh, it soon became clear that their ambitions reinforced each other. Together, they aim to become the fourth largest telecom operator in the business market. But why wouldn’t Cegeka and Citymesh venture into the consumer market if they already have the expertise?

Citymesh reports to De Tijd that it is applying to become the fourth fully-fledged national telecom player. This would require an investment of around 100 million euros.

"Citymesh has had the ambition for years to become the fourth telecom operator," says CEO Mitch De Geest. "We have found the final pieces of the puzzle; we have national 4G and 5G spectrum, a clear vision and, together with Cegeka, a strong and complete offering to shake up the telecoms market in Belgium."

The fact that the dividing line between B2B and B2C telecoms is blurring has reinforced the companies' decision: "If you set up a private mobile network for a container terminal or hospital, that is clearly a private network," says De Geest. But Citymesh also wants to build networks for cities. "A network that police officers, healthcare staff or civil servants use is public."

If Citymesh gets hold of the full spectrum package, this will give the company access to 700MHz, 900MHz, 1400MHz, 1800MHz and 2000MHz spectrum, on top of their existing 2600MHz and 3500MHz spectrum. If they succeed, they will have as much capacity as a Proximus.

This gives Citymesh enough spectrum to maintain their B2B focus and also realise a very competitive B2C offering. "We have the great advantage of being able to build our networks from the ground up according to the latest standards," says De Geest. "Thanks to sufficient capacity in the 5G package, we can also use these state-of-the-art 5G networks to realise a unique offering on the consumer market" continues De Geest.

"Whether you think of retailers, schools or football clubs, more and more companies are considering offering a mobile internet subscription under their own brand name," says Stijn Bijnens. " This is not in order to be able to sell SIM cards themselves, but because the anonymised data they obtain from these cards is valuable." In other words, Cegeka and Citymesh want to offer a platform with the necessary technical support for new players in the telecoms market. It will house this new activity in a vehicle that is yet to be established.

Next Tuesday, the 5G auction will be organized. The Consultation Committee had requested from Federal Telecom Minister Petra De Sutter a study on the impact of the possible entry of a fourth telecom player. The telecoms watchdog BIPT finalised an update of its study in 2018. The conclusions are in line with the previous version: a fourth telecom player could bring down the prices for mobile internet.

Bijnens and De Geest want the package to be preserved for a new player: "That would not only be interesting in terms of mobile Internet prices, but also in terms of employment and the development of Belgian talent," says De Geest.

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