Belgian regulator analysed telecom service tariffs in six countries

Belgian regulator BIPT published a benchmark of telecom tariffs in Belgium and its five neighboring countries: the UK, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. Its objective was to determine to what extent the price level of telecom products for residential users on the Belgian market compares to the price level of similar products in the neighbouring countries. The analysis was performed on the basis of tariff plan information collected by BIPT in August 2019.

The prices of the Belgian triple-play tariff plans (including fixed telephony, internet and television) range in the middle for all speed categories. The triple play plan with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps, which is the most representative for Belgium, cost the average of the prices applied in three countries with a similar price level. The difference between Belgium and the cheapest countries, France and Germany, was around € 30 and € 15, respectively. For the price difference when comparing to France the perspective of the limited geographic availability of fast internet in this country shall be taken into account. Regarding this aspect, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are at the head of the European peloton. The UK turns out to be the most expensive country in the comparison of triple-play plans.

The prices of quadruple-play, i. e. triple-play plus mobile telephony, with a 5 GB mobile data allowance, position Belgium rather high. France offers the lowest prices, compared to Belgium by € 40.

Standalone broadband internet was the cheapest in Belgium, but the benchmark result was significantly affected by the fact that only three countries were analysed within the most representative category comprising the speeds between 50 and 100 Mbps. Moreover, all neighbouring countries as well as the rest of Europe apply unlimited tariff plans for standalone internet, while the plans in Belgium offer only limited data volumes.

In mobile telephony the many-year downward trend in mobile phone service pricing displayed in many European markets continued also in Belgium. However, differences were apparent across data package sizes. While for the lowest allowance of 500 MB mobile data, Belgium was the second cheapest country, from the comparison of heavy profiles with 10 GB it comes out as expensive. The most representative tariff plan with 5 GB mobile data positions Belgium in the middle.

In fixed telephony, light users are worse off than heavy users in Belgium compared to the neighbouring countries. Moreover, standalone fixed telephony is an ever less relevant category of services; e. g. in 2018 it was used by only 12% of Belgian households.

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