0 Theme: Consumer protection Network Tariffs and Choice Author: June 3, 2015

One digital agenda, several digital agendas, which digital agendas with no political will?

For the past few years, one of the priorities of the political world (European, Belgian, regional, communal, municipal) has been to become digital. Let the government be digital, let citizens be digital, let companies be digital, let everyone benefit from the best mobile connections and let that contribute to better well-being and increased value creation.

In 2010, Neelie Kroes, the previous Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, launched the ʺ2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growthʺ plan, in which digitalisation and the role of telecommunications operators was pivotal. A few weeks ago, Alexander De Croo, the Belgian Minister for Digital Agenda, also presented his digital agenda plan for the coming years: ʺA Digital Agenda for Belgiumʺ. More recently still, Jean-Claude Marcourt, Walloon Minister for Innovation and Digitalisation, also announced a digital plan aimed at making Wallonia a digital region: ʺFocus on Wallonia 4.0ʺ. Brussels, the capital of the European Union, aims to become the capital of digitalisation. Flanders is talking of entering into a fourth industrial revolution through digitalisation.

BASE Company has always welcomed such initiatives and supported them. However, we have a number of questions: beyond the declarations of intent, is there really a political will to make Belgium, Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels digital, which would help boost the economy? Do the various ministers really have the taste for and desire to face certain challenges in order to implement their various plans?

A digital world, our will and our raison d’être

Let’s not be naive. BASE Company’s primary role is to supply our customers and our future customers with high-quality connections at a good price, and therefore continue to build a high-performance network. We have the ambition to anticipate the demands and expectations of our customers, especially as regards mobile Internet. The exponential growth of mobile Internet – which is far greater than the estimates made two or three years ago – means that we have to increase our networks’ capacity through new sites and upgrades to equip them with 4G today, 4G+ tomorrow and 5G after tomorrow. It is the intrinsic logic of a network industry to always invest in its network.

The political world wishes to, decides to and must make choices

BASE Company has therefore favourably welcomed the recent federal and regional plans aimed at promoting the digital agenda, the use of mobile or fixed Internet connections, e-commerce, and the use of information and communication technologies by citizens. How can we not welcome these plans with enthusiasm and interest?

However, the political world, on a federal and regional level, is familiar with the current legislative and regulatory obstacles hampering the implementation of such plans. BASE Company has said it and repeated it many times over the years. (http://basefacts.be/reseau/taxation-or-innovation-a-choice-has-to-be-made/) No one can say they didn’t know or weren’t aware of it.

By definition, the political world and the various governments are supreme in the decisions they take according to different parameters. There simply needs to be coherence between the wishes and decisions taken according to the desired objectives. There is still a long way to go…

BASE Company intends to continue to invest and give its customers the best network and the best connection. We shall do it if we can, where we can, when we can and according to the political choices and decisions that will or won’t be taken.

In the event that the Walloon taxes on the GSM Pylons would be abolished, BASE Company would be prepared to increase its investment in Wallonia with the equivalent amounts. In the event that the three mobile operators were to take the same decision, Wallonia would be able to have full mobile coverage at high speeds in a relatively short time. The Walloon digital agenda ambition can be realised in this manner.

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