A year of bold moves, in Belgium and globally

Dear reader,

2023 will be remembered as a pivotal year in Proximus’ history, and that is no vain claim. It was a year that saw us resolutely gain the foothold necessary to become a top-tier international player, while further bolstering our position in Belgium. The decisive strategic choices we have made have put us in a better position than ever, with a view to becoming both the digital companion of all Belgians and one of the world leaders in digital communications and digital identity. Diversifying our growth drivers also gives us the means to forge ahead with our massive investment in our networks and in innovation.

Rapid roll-out of fiber and 5G networks

You may remember that at the end of 2022 we launched our new, three-year strategic plan, bold2025. There was clearly nothing arbitrary about the choice of the word “bold”, as it underlines our ambition to “boldly build a connected world that people trust so society blooms”. This is exactly what we are doing by continuing the rapid roll-out of our fiber and 5G networks in Belgium, keeping us well ahead of the competition.

2023 was also a milestone, as now as much as 29% of the Belgian homes and businesses are now connectable to fiber. Overall, including also the full contribution of our joint ventures, 34% of homes and businesses were covered with “Fiber in the street”.1 We can only make this boast thanks to the remarkable work of our teams in the field. And the pace is set to accelerate.

Both our employees and our joint venture partners give their best throughout the year to bring the benefits of fiber to as many homes and businesses as possible. In this regard, we welcome the recent announcement by the BIPT that it supports the idea of evaluating cooperation between the various operators in Belgium for the roll-out of fiber. This should make it easier for us to cover less densely populated areas, and also paves the way for more efficient deployment, in both economic and environmental terms. That is good news for Belgium’s competitiveness in an ever-more-rapidly digitizing world.

Chairman and ceo of Proximus stand side by side.
Stefaan De Clerck, ChairmanGuillaume Boutin, CEO

bold2025 underlines our ambition to “boldly build a connected world that people trust so society blooms”.

When it comes to 5G, things are also moving in the right direction. Thanks to the current legislative framework, coverage continues to improve at a steady pace in the country’s three regions, ensuring that we achieve our 100% indoor coverage target in the 2025-2026 timeframe. We have never been more determined to roll out our gigabit networks to all people and businesses in the country.

A very positive business momentum

Fiber can be hailed for giving us the best fixed network in Belgium, with download speeds set to rise to 100 Gbps in 2024. We also boast the best mobile network in Belgium. Furthermore, the fact that Proximus was able to acquire the largest spectrum share at the 2022 auction guarantees that we will continue to offer the best mobile experience for years to come. That being said, everything does not just come down to the networks. A big shout-out goes out to our teams, who have been able to leverage this technological lead to bring the best products and services to market for our customers. Technologies such as Wi-Fi 6 or digital services like Doktr will enable us to become the digital companion of all Belgians.

Both our employees and our joint venture partners give their best to bring the benefits of fiber to as many homes and businesses as possible.

This strategy is paying off, as our business momentum was extremely solid throughout 2023, thanks to both the superiority of our network and products, and to our multi-brand strategy in the residential market (Proximus, Scarlet, Mobile Vikings). This approach enables us to answer the needs of all consumers, including those with lower purchasing power. If we add to this the wholesale agreement signed in 2023 with the new operator expected in 2024, Proximus is ideally positioned to face the changing structure of the Belgian market and look to the future with confidence. We also took the unprecedented step, a few months ago, of repositioning our commercial offering for business customers. This now operates under a single, strong brand: Proximus NXT. Our goal is to ensure that our customers always stay one step ahead, continuously optimizing their business models, in a secure, sovereign and sustainable way. With Proximus NXT, we are gearing up to becoming the number one technology and ICT partner for business customers in the Benelux region.

For Proximus, innovation knows no bounds

At Proximus, innovation is deeply rooted in our corporate culture. In 2023, we were pioneers in bringing sovereign cloud solutions to market with Microsoft and Google. We were even the first operator in Europe to offer disconnected sovereign cloud solutions through our Clarence joint venture, in association with LuxConnect. This is an essential step forward in enabling companies to better protect their sensitive data, while guaranteeing compliance with European regulations. Thanks to Proximus, Belgium and Luxembourg are at the forefront of this crucial area for the future.

Innovation at Proximus extends not only to our technology but also to our people. In 2023, we further explored means of adjusting our ways of working to respond to an increasingly hybrid and agile world. For example, a secure chat based on generative artificial intelligence is now available to all our employees, complete with sessions to share ideas on how generative artificial intelligence can improve everyone’s work. In parallel with our physical move, which saw 6,000 of our employees relocate, we have continued to adapt and revamp our corporate culture by encouraging our teams to take more initiative and dare to challenge our habits. At the same time, our up-skilling and re-skilling programs are designed to support our employees in preparing for the jobs of the future. This is a responsible, forward-looking policy that we have matured thanks to an ongoing, trust-based dialog with our social partners.

Another major innovation in 2023 was the launch of the Supplier Engagement Program, in collaboration with our 150 main suppliers. Thanks to this program, we help our suppliers set CO2 reduction targets that are as ambitious as our own. These targets are even set out clearly in the contracts we have ‘ Both our employees and our joint venture partners give their best to bring the benefits of fiber to as many homes and businesses as possible.’ Proximus Group Integrated a 6 nnual report 2023 with them. This approach positions us as a key player in the climate transition across our entire value chain.

One of the world’s top 3 thanks to Route Mobile

Finally, the most significant event of 2023 was, without a doubt, our agreement to acquire a majority stake in Route Mobile.1 This investment will represent a real turning point for our Group, parachuting us into the world’s top 3 in digital communications and digital identity. This is a fast-growing market that sets out to make the digital space a safe place for everyone, a vision that is perfectly in line with our societal mission.

With BICS, Telesign and Route Mobile, Proximus Group will have strong and highly complementary competitive global assets, both from geographical and product expertise standpoints. This acquisition also means that, in three or four years’ time, 50% of our turnover will come from activities that are not linked to our physical networks. Once the transaction with Route Mobile is signed and sealed, Proximus Group will gradually take the 1 The agreement remains conditional upon fulfilling the stipulated conditions, including obtaining regulatory and anti-trust approvals and completing the MTO (mandatory takeover offer). form of an international tech company, while ramping up its leadership in the domestic telecoms and ICT market. While challenges may lie ahead in 2024, we look forward to embracing them with serenity and confidence. As history has shown many times , diversifying and internationalizing our activities serve only to strengthen the resilience of Proximus Group.

Never before has the need for digitalization been so keenly felt. And never before have we been so prepared to meet this need in both Belgium and the rest of the world. #thinkpossible

Signed by the Proximus chairman and the CEO