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Proximus makes LTE free in Belgium

Apple is under fire for blocking LTE access

Apple is under fire for blocking LTE access

Belgian carrier Proximus has made LTE access available to all customers at no extra cost, going against the grain of operators charging a premium for the service.

From Friday, all existing and new Proximus and Belgacom customers who want to use mobile internet with an LTE capable device now have automatic access to the an LTE network in Belgium with a coverage of more than 50 per cent and accessible in 260 cities and municipalities.

For the next six months customers will be able to access downlink speeds of 86Mbps, after which Proximus will roll them back onto a 20Mbps connection. At this point the company will introduce a commercial offer for users wanting to stay on the higher speed connection.

“Proximus wants to make the difference, not only with technology but also with the differentiation on the 4G customer experience,” the company said. “Mobile Internet usage is growing quickly in our country. Of all Belgian internet traffic, 20 per cent currently goes via smartphones, tablets and laptops on a mobile network. Mobile data use of Proximus customers has increased 60 per cent compared with one year ago,” the company added.

The move comes as rival operator Mobistar and Apple also made headlines in Belgium. Mobistar is Apple’s only partner in the country, with Proximus and Base not selling Apple devices. However, Mobistar does not have an LTE network commercially available despite selling the LTE-enabled iPhone5. Apple also blocks LTE access to SIM unlocked iPhones taken onto the Proximus and Base networks.

But the Belgian government has now stepped in and is threatening Apple with fines after the Council of Ministers ruled that no mobile phone maker can block 4G access for any carriers.

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