On our way to being the reference operator in Europe

Dear reader,

What if digital was your only access to the outside world? An intriguing question and, in fact, this has been virtually the case for many of us in 2020. Connectivity and digital services have never been so crucial for everyday life. This made 2020 a key moment for the telecommunications sector. It was also a year of change for Proximus, with the launch of its new strategic vision, #inspire2022.

2020 was an atypical year to say the least, but we have seized the opportunity to move ahead. We took very strong measures to protect our employees and our customers, to keep everyone connected at all times and ensure the continuity of the activities of Belgian society as a whole. Fulfilling our social responsibility, we provided help and support (also to schools and hospitals) and promoted digital inclusion. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a defining moment for the telecom sector. It reinforced our belief in Proximus’ mission: to open up a world of digital opportunities so people live better and work smarter.

A changing market

In an uncertain global context, our sector is transforming at an unprecedented pace. We have identified four major market trends:

Despite this period of great uncertainty, we have deliberately chosen to take the lead and prepare for the future: to integrate these market trends and take advantage of change. This has led us to radically change the way we look at our strengths, our capabilities and the way we implement them.

Opening up a world of digital opportunities

2020 reinforced our mission: to open up a world of digital opportunities so that people can live better and work smarter – this is the foundation of our #inspire2022 strategy, which was launched at the end of March 2020. With a clear vision and ambition, built on four pillars:

First of all, we are committed to building the best gigabit network for Belgium, by strongly accelerating the deployment of fiber and 5G — a network open to all and for the benefit of everyone. To achieve this, we are combining our own capabilities with the expertise and experience of carefully selected partners.

We are already deploying fiber in 16 cities, reaching 460,000 homes and businesses. By 2028, we will have connected at least 70% of Belgian homes and businesses to fiber. Through our partnerships with EQT Infrastructure and Eurofiber1, we are stepping up the roll-out of fiber in less-densely populated areas. We will continue our efforts to ultimately connect every home and business in this country to high- or very high-speed connectivity solutions.

By 2028, we will have connected at least 70% of Belgian homes and businesses to fiber.

At the mobile level, we are further strengthening our leadership position with the launch of Belgium’s first public 5G network. Through Mwingz2, our joint venture with Orange Belgium, we are in particular aiming to roll out 5G faster and more widely, while increasing our efficiency and reducing our environmental footprint.

With what will be the best gigabit network, both fixed and mobile, we can fundamentally change the way we do business, within the framework of a “Network-as-a-Service” model. By offering connectivity services based primarily on software, we can provide companies with unparalleled flexibility and agility.

Secondly, we are structurally transforming our business model to operate like a digital native company. We aim to offer best-in-class experiences to our customers across all channels. To do this, we must integrate digital into every aspect of our business: our habits, processes, systems, and our ways of working. We want to carefully balance human and digital interactions, to find the right balance between customer convenience, efficiency and an irreplaceable human touch. This internal transformation is based on an extensive automation program, the use of advanced data analysis techniques and an end-to-end simplification of internal processes.To achieve this, we also need to develop new skills and attract new talent.

Next, our #inspire2022 strategy also aims to return to profitable growth. By capitalizing on our brands, our customer base and our leadership in connectivity and convergent services, we will return to profitable growth by 2022 – in terms of both revenue and EBITDA. Our strategy for diversification and innovation will also support our growth. The MyProximus app, for example, will evolve into a local cosystem integrating the services of local and international partners. Another example is our partnership with Belfius resulting in an innovative banking offer imagined by Proximus and powered by Belfius.

By capitalizing on our brands, our consumer base and our leadership in connectivity and convergent services, we will return to profitable growth by 2022.

Finally, Proximus is unquestionably acting for a green and digital society. Since 2016, we have been carbon neutral for our own activities. And we are going even further by nurturing the bold ambition to make a net positive contribution to a net zero planet. We aim to become a truly circular company by 2030.

Our societal role has never been clearer than in 2020. Beyond the actions we have taken to support vulnerable groups in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, we are committed to ensuring the safety, inclusion and accessibility of digital tools for all Belgian citizens. In the future, we also intend to strengthen our role in the ecosystem of digital education in Belgium.

In the future, we intend to strengthen our role in the ecosystem of digital education in Belgium.

COVID-19: a revealing test for our purpose and values

When COVID-19 struck in March 2020, our first priority was to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and our customers. We took all the necessary preventive and protective measures to reduce the risks related to the spread of coronavirus. In addition, we provided our employees with a solid framework to help them through this crisis. It was also an opportunity to establish a more authentic and empathetic communication with our employees, as we recognized the personal and professional challenges resulting from the pandemic.

More than ever, our sector has demonstrated the central role it plays in today’s world for consumers, companies, governments and society as a whole.

We have acted swiftly to support customers enduring strict social distancing and confinement and to enable businesses and public authorities to continue to operate. We have offered discounts and free data to support our customers. For businesses, we developed tailor-made solutions to ensure the continuity of their operations. And we have provided essential support to the industries that were affected the most: education, hospitality, culture and healthcare.

The COVID-19 crisis offers us an opportunity to shape the “new normal”, to rethink our habits to create lasting change. An obvious example of this is digital being the engine that is propelling the world of remote working. Yet, the magic of physical human connection, and the value it brings to both employees and the work done, should never be underestimated. Therefore, we will be rethinking our workspaces to become a catalyst for positive and enriching physical interactions – to encourage contact, collaboration and innovation. Our vision is to give people different options when it comes to where and how they work.

We will be rethinking our workspaces to encourage contact, collaboration and innovation.

Our new collective labor agreement to work more efficiently

Having agreed and implemented our restructuring plan at the end of 2019, our first priority was to re-establish a constructive social dialogue and ensure the transition toward a safe and inspiring working environment – one that promotes greater trust and openness.

In 2020, we have taken big steps in that direction. Our new collective labor agreement gives special focus to the right to disconnect: employees can now disconnect completely outside working hours, allowing for a better work-life balance. It also includes a new, more sustainable mobility plan. Our agreement is the result of a constructive collaboration with all social partners. Together, and with a shared ambition for the future, we are able to move forward.

The actions we have set out in #inspire2022 will fundamentally change Proximus and the society in which we operate. We will be better connected than ever. Better equipped to act responsibly for the future.

At Proximus, we are ready. #thinkpossible

Signed by the Proximus chairman and the CEO

  1. At the end of 2020, completion of these agreements was still subject to the approval of the Belgian Competition Authority.
  2. At the end of 2020, completion of this agreement was still subject to the approval of the Belgian Competition Authority.