Proximus intends to achieve 100% very high-speed internet coverage in rural areas using innovative technologies

With over 97% of households connected to broadband, Belgium ranks among the countries with the best fixed internet coverage in the world. But there is no reason to leave it at that. In order to open/offer the advantages of very high-speed Internet to the entire Belgian population, including in rural areas, Proximus is leveraging new resources every day to get closer to 100% very high-speed internet coverage. By combining fiber with other technologies, Proximus wants to provide all Belgians with optimal access to online services. These have become essential, whether for distance learning, teleworking, entertainment or staying in touch with loved ones.

For several years now, Proximus has been making huge investments to accelerate the fiber roll-out in collaboration with its partners Unifiber in Wallonia, Fiberklaar in Flanders and GOFiber in the German-speaking community. Now the company wants to go one step further. By combining fiber with other innovative technologies, Proximus also aims to improve connectivity in rural areas, particularly in those areas where the connection speed is currently below 30 Mbit/s.

In rural areas where traditional cable laying is too expensive or no option altogether, Proximus is constantly looking for new alternatives to make specific projects possible and economically viable. Various techniques are used based on the typology of the places involved and the nature of the grounds.

Innovative solutions to roll out broadband internet in rural areas

Combination of fiber and radio link

Visual representation of how homes are connected to the network: via distribution cables in streets that are centralized in an optical cabinet which connected to the network via optical fiber and a radio link

This technique comes down to providing high-speed Internet connectivity by combining fiber and a radio link, also known as a microwave link. Broadband is delivered via two parabolic antennas located several kilometers apart. As shown in the figure opposite, there is no radiation outside the fictitious line connecting the 2 antennas. Technically speaking, this solution is possible if the 2 antennas do not meet any obstacle between them.

Aerial fiber installation

In this case, the fiber is laid on the pylons of the electricity suppliers, which reduces costs compared to cables running in conventional trenches. This solution can only be applied in areas where electricity pylons are present and where the network operator has agreed to it.

In January 2022, Proximus signed an agreement with ORES to use its electricity pylons in Wallonia to connect homes to the fiber. Discussions are currently held with Fluvius to reach a similar agreement in Flanders.

Optimized trenches

Here, Proximus uses machines that perform all the necessary operations in one go (opening the trench, laying the optical ducts and closing the trench). Trenches don't need to be as wide either. These 2 elements allow costs reduction. This innovative technique can only be used under certain conditions, namely in the absence of existing underground infrastructure. It is currently being tested in several municipalities, including Gouvy and Onhaye.

Partnerships with municipalities

In some cases, Proximus carries out these works in partnership with the municipality in which the white zone is located. The municipality therefore makes available to interested parties the trenches necessary for the laying of fiber. This solution therefore makes it possible to reduce costs and make economically viable roll-out projects that would not have been possible if Proximus had to resort entirely to its own funds.

By the end of 2020, there were nearly 46,500 homes in white zones, most of which were located in Wallonia. In 2021 and 2022, Proximus rolled out more than 160 optical street cabinets in Wallonia, enabling 14,000 families and SMEs, mainly located in rural areas, to access broadband Internet connectivity. More than 170 projects will be rolled out in the next 3 years.

Pilot projects to go even further

With the support of the advanced connectivity market of the Giga Région program of the Agence du numérique

Logo of the #GigaRegion digital wallonia
Logo of the "Agence du Numérique", the digital expertise center of Wallonia

Proximus' research and development departments are constantly looking for solutions to roll out broadband in rural areas. In this context, 3 new projects have recently received subsidies from the Walloon Region to be tested.

Roll out of a fiber network connected via radio link

In the municipality of Onhaye, a project combines a radio link with a fiber roll out program (Fiber to the Home - FTTH). Each of the 88 homes and businesses in the village of Miavoye (municipality of Onhaye) is directly connected to fiber. This solution provides Proximus customers with a download speed of 1 Gbit/s (and very soon 10 Gbit/s).


In the municipality of Gouvy, Proximus will resort to an optimized trenching technique as well as aerial fiber installation. This intervention will benefit the 206 living units and 27 professional units (self-employed, businesses, etc.) in the villages of Baclain and Steinbach (municipality of Gouvy) which will also be able to benefit from a download speed of 1 Gbit/s (and very soon from 10 Gbit/s technology).

Robotic optical splitter

This project aims at testing a robotized optical splitter that has been installed in the municipality of Wépion. This innovative technology is expected to perform the laying (or removal) of optical cords using a remotely controlled robot.


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