Whether at home, at school, on the road or at work, we check the Internet, make Skype calls and stream dozens of videos simultaneously on multiple screens. Changes in the use of technologies happen fast, meaning we constantly need faster and more powerful networks. About two and a half years ago, Telenet decided to invest a total of 500 million euros to upgrade its fixed cable network over five years. From 2019, Internet users in Flanders can enjoy broadband speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second, which is five times faster than the current speed. The mobile network will also undergo a substantial upgrade, resulting in even better capacity and greater coverage.
Data traffic is constantly increasing. Whereas we used up to 27 Gigabytes (GB) a month in 2011 on the fixed network, this ballooned to almost 150 GB in 2016, i.e., five times more data in just as many years. Average Internet speeds are also growing exponentially. The maximum speeds have quadrupled, from 50 megabit per second (mbps) in 2011 to 200 mbps in 2016.
In two years from now: gigaspeeds in Flanders
Telenet in 2014 took action to ensure the network was ready for the speeds and volumes that consumers will expect in the future. For two and a half years now, 280 technicians have been working tirelessly on Telenet’s ‘Grote Netwerf’ on a daily basis. With this 500 million EUR investment project, Telenet seeks to expand its network over five years. By 2019, the network can support speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second all over Flanders by 2019, i.e., five times faster than the current fast speeds. De Grote Netwerf is already halfway, with over 200 municipalities already having undergone an upgrade. The investment ensures that the network is able to cope with the increases in bandwidth and speed in the next decades. Thanks to the network upgrade, customers in the long term will not even notice the difference between a coaxial or optic fibre cable when using the Internet.
Telenet does however check whether laying an optic fibre cable right up to the house is profitable in new residential developments. This depends on various technical factors. In September, a pilot project will start with the first residential customers. Nothing will change for them. They will receive the same products and services as the other Telenet customers.
35 times more mobile data
Mobile data traffic has also experienced a spectacular surge in Belgium in recent years. To date, mobile data usage, i.e., data sent and received through the BASE network, which Telenet acquired last year, is currently 35 times the volume generated five years ago. The average customer uses about 1 GB a month and forecasts indicate that this will increase at breakneck pace. Video streaming, virtual reality or augmented reality are the next big thing. Research by Cisco demonstrated that video will account for 78 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2021.
A more efficient mobile network
From 2016 until 2020, Telenet is investing 250 million euros in its mobile network to cope with the surge in data traffic. The mobile sites will be upgraded, by replacing the radio stations with the latest stations, increasing the capacity and 3G, 4G and 4.5 G coverage. By 2020, up to 1,000 new mobile sites will also be built. Currently over one hundred new antennas have already been installed and just under a thousand have already been upgraded. By the end of this year, 80 percent of the upgrade of the mobile network will already have been completed.