Proximus building on the Meir in Antwerp sold to Belgian property developers

17/03/2017

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Proximus building on the Meir in Antwerp sold to Belgian property developers

17/03/2017

Thanks to new technologies, Proximus' telecom exchange on the Meir in Antwerp can move to a smaller site. This way, the current building will become free for property development at the end of 2019 (or perhaps in 2020). A number of Belgian property developers and Proximus have found each other: the property investors can set to work on the renovation of the part of the building they purchased. The ground floor (Meir side) will house businesses while the rest of the building will become a mixture of office space and apartments. In other words, it is a real win-win outcome

From old to new

Proximus’ real estate subsidiary ConnectImmo has sold the Proximus building on the Meir. The Meir is the main shopping street of Antwerp; it is part of the central pedestrian axis that runs from the KBC tower in Antwerp's historic center to the Central Station.

All Proximus' telecom equipment was accommodated in a separate building (Atropos) so the largest part of the site (36,000 m²) could be sold. Proximus' staff there can continue to use the current office location until March 2019. In the meantime, the real estate subsidiary is looking for a suitable office location for after 2019, where other office locations of Berchem and Silsburg will also be grouped.

A result of technological developments

Indeed, thanks to technological developments, large exchanges are becoming redundant and Proximus can replace them with smaller exchanges. Since alternative operators also use these exchanges, they can be closed down only under strict conditions laid down by the BIPT (Belgian Institute of Postal Services and Telecommunications).

The Antwerp exchange is a very important and major junction in the Proximus network. Its closure is therefore a labor intensive process which requires close collaboration with other operators, departments of the City of Antwerp and external contractors. Only after new technical rooms have been set up and changes to the network infrastructure in the street have been completed will it be possible to migrate all customers from the old exchange to the new one. This exercise will run until the end of 2019, by which time Proximus will leave the current building completely.

Increasingly more complex networks

This transaction in Antwerp is a fine example of what Proximus and its real estate subsidiary ConnectImmo are doing in many locations in the country: emptying the technical telecom-related parts of buildings and setting up the modern telecom installations in the same location or on another site. This saves energy and costs and offers the opportunity to commercialize emptied buildings and house employees in new, high-quality office locations.

Proximus pioneers with its “MANTRA” project (Migration And Network Transformation)

This exercise fits in with Proximus' "Mantra" project: transforming the outdated network to a future-oriented network that costs less and adapts more flexibly to the customer's needs. This is one of the greatest challenges of the future for all incumbent network operators: after all, a whole host of new technologies and completely new network layers have been added to the existing network over the past 20 years: the Ethernet backbone, ADSL, several generations of VDSL, on IP-based voice technologies and platforms, several generations of mobile technology, etc. And, of course, "Fiber for Belgium", in which Proximus is investing 3 billion euro with a view to reaching more than 85% of all businesses and more than 50% of all households with fiber in the course of 10 years.

The latest technologies are much more compact and use much less energy; maintenance costs decrease significantly and, above all, Proximus can launch new services and applications much faster. This operation is highly complex and requires a great deal of manpower, but Proximus has resolutely opted to play a pioneering role in developing a high-tech broadband network at a lower cost.



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