Optical fiber is the high-speed technology which best meets the needs of the future, for both residential and business customers. With optical fiber, all the members of a household can browse the Internet, watch streamed content, and play games online simultaneously, with no latency or loss in quality. Fiber is also the perfect solution for business customers because, in addition to unrivaled (multi-gigabit) speed, it offers greater reliability and will support whatever digital innovations may appear over the next few decades.
Proximus is committed to bringing optical fiber to 70% of Belgian homes and businesses by 2028 and, in order to achieve this ambitious goal, the company has spectacularly sped up the rate at which fiber is being rolled out over the last few months; indeed it has now become one of Europe's leading operators in this field. The acceleration of the fiber rollout will be fully operational by the end of 2022, covering an extra 10% of homes and businesses each year.
Proximus is now extending its range of fiber rollout solutions in Wallonia by means of an agreement signed with ORES for the use of the latter's electric poles. ORES is the leading Walloon distribution network operator and manages the electricity and natural gas networks of 200 of Wallonia's 262 communes.
A faster rollout, with less disruption to residents
Guillaume Boutin, the Proximus CEO, and Fernand Grifnée, his counterpart at ORES, signed the new agreement on 17 January 2022. The two companies have been working together for a long time, given that Proximus has already been using ORES' poles since 2008 to bring fiber to its street cabinets (ROP). The new agreement expands this partnership as it also incorporates the operations involved in using optical fiber routed via the electric poles to connect both residential and business customers.
The signing of this new agreement follows on from a pilot project carried out in Bouge in 2021, during which two kilometers of optical fiber installed on fifty ORES poles were used to connect 177 homes to fiber. The results of this pilot project, which will be extended to more than a thousand homes over the coming weeks, are highly encouraging. The rolling out of fiber via the electric poles allows users to be connected more quickly, whilst at the same time significantly reducing any impact that the work might have on residents.
So this new agreement between Proximus and ORES has an important part to play in rolling out fiber in Wallonia even more quickly and it will help with exceeding the national target set by Proximus of 70% coverage in 2028 and beyond. This is especially the case because the new agreement is open to all telecom companies operating in Belgium, under the same conditions and at the same price. What is more, thanks to the open multi-gigabit network rolled out by Proximus, all operators will be able to access the fiber which Proximus will be installing on ORES' poles.