GOfiber – an innovative approach for fibre roll-out in rural areas © Photo Credit: IndustryAndTravel - stock.adobe.com

GOfiber – an innovative approach for fibre roll-out in rural areas

The German-speaking Community in East Belgium (DG) is one of the three language communities in Belgium with 80,000 inhabitants spread across 40,000 households. Coverage with VHC networks and competition in the broadband market are significantly less pronounced in the DG than in the rest of Belgium. Against this backdrop, the Ministry of the German-speaking Community of East Belgium decided in autumn 2020 to actively engage in the expansion of fibre optics.

For this purpose, GOfiber has been established in autumn 2022. GOfiber is a joint venture between the Ministry of the German-speaking Community, Proximus, the Belgian incumbent and the financial investor Ethias. GOfiber will construct a nationwide fibre optic network by 2026 and provide all interested parties with open network access on a passive level. In addition, Proximus will offer the active products from its national wholesale portfolio on the GOfiber network via the interfaces and processes established in the market.

In order to ensure a high network take-up, Proximus has made a commitment to GOfiber to migrate its existing copper/glass customers and to switch off the copper network within five years after network expansion.

The cross-subsidisation of economic and uneconomic areas ensures that the subsidies used are minimised. Even in regions that cannot be developed economically on their own, nationwide expansion is thus possible with a justifiable use of budget funds. The GOfiber model could thus serve as a model for fibre expansion in areas that cannot be developed commercially.

WIK-Consult supported the Ministry in the development of the institutional design and the negotiations with the investors and other relevant stakeholders as a strategic consultant.