Internet in Belgium

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Status[edit]

  • Internet users: 8.6 million, 43rd in the world; 82.0% of the population, 27th in the world (2012).[1]
  • Fixed broadband: 3.6 million subscribers, 25th in the world; 34.1% of population, 12th in the world (2012).[2]
  • Mobile broadband: 3.5 million subscribers, 46th in the world; 33.7% of population, 48th in the world (2012).[3]
  • Internet hosts: 5.2 million, 21st in the world (2012).[4]
  • Top level domain: .be[4]
  • IPv4 addresses: 11.1 million, 0.3% of worldwide total, 1,068 addresses per person (2012).[5]

DSL, ADSL, and VDSL[edit]

ADSL first appeared in Belgium in 1999, named Turboline. The first network was set up by the incumbent Belgian telecom operator Belgacom and has been expanding ever since. In 2004 nearly 90% of the entire territory had access to ADSL from Belgacom. Belgacom's daughter company Skynet was the first officially supported ADSL provider, but now many more have gained popularity and almost all provide full triple play services (Television/Internet/Telephone).

Alongside the Belgacom ADSL network, several operators including Scarlet, Mobistar and Versatel have created a secondary network, based on local loop unbundling.

In 2009 the competitors of Belgacom started to offer VDSL2 connections instead of ADSL2+.

Providers
  • Belgacom, offers download speeds up to 50 Mbit/s and upload up to 2.5 Mbit/s mainly in VDSL2, but also ADSL/ADSL2+.[6]
  • Billi, offers download speeds up to 28 Mbit/s and upload up to 3 Mbit/s via ADSL2+.[7]
  • Dommel, offers download speeds up to 30 Mbit/s and upload up to 4.5 Mbit/s in VDSL2.[8]
  • EDPnet, offers download speeds up to 50 Mbit/s and upload up to 6 Mbit/s --or-- download speeds up to 16,5 Mbit/s and upload up to 10 Mbit/s via ADSL/ADSL2+ and VDSL2.[9]
  • Mobistar, offers download speeds up to 16 Mbit/s and upload up to 384 kbit/s via ADSL/ADSL2+.[10]
  • Pari-Link, offers guaranteed download speeds up to 40 Mbit/s and upload up to 40 Mbit/s via VDSL2 with 3G backup.[11]
  • Scarlet, offers download speeds up to 50 Mbit/s and upload up to 4 Mbit/s in VDSL2.[12]
  • Snow offers download speeds up to 30 Mbit/s and upload up to 2.5 Mbit/s via VDSL2+.[13]
  • Svanto, offers download speeds up to 50 Mbit/s and upload up to 5 Mbit/s in ADSL/ADSL2+ and VDSL2.[14]

Cable[edit]

Belgium also has cable networks. The biggest one, started by Telenet in 1997, covers almost all of Flanders. Speeds vary from 512kbit/s to 200 Mbits/s down.

Providers
  • Numéricable, operating in Brussels, offers download speeds up to 200 Mbit/s and upload up to 8 Mbit/s.[15]
  • Telenet, operating in Flanders and partly Brussels, offers consumer download speeds up to 200 Mbit/s and consumer upload up to 10 Mbit/s.[16]
  • VOO, operating in Wallonia and partly Brussels, offers download speeds up to 100 Mbit/s and upload up to 5 Mbit/s.[17]

Bandwidth and transfer limits[edit]

Download speeds in Brussels are now reaching a good level,[when?] however, the majority of Belgians have bandwidth caps in place to limit the amount of data users can transfer through their connection. Typically these are between 5GB/month and 1000GB/month and show that the competition in this market has not been strong enough to drive out these practices which have vanished in other western and eastern European countries.[according to whom?]

In June 2008 the Belgian Internet providers Dommel[18] and Yabu ADSL announced nationwide ADSL subscriptions without the data limits.

In February 2010 the major operators of Belgium, including Telenet and Belgacom, announced tariffs with unlimited caps, but still with FUP formulas (fair usage policy).

Internet censorship[edit]

Further information: Websites blocked in Belgium
  • Not individually classified by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), but included in ONI's regional overview for Europe.[19]
  • Freedom House reports in its Freedom in the World 2013 report that freedom of speech and the press are guaranteed by the constitution and generally respected by the government and that Internet access is unrestricted.[20]

There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. Individuals and groups engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. The Belgian constitution and law provide for freedom of speech, including for members of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure freedom of speech and press. The constitution and legal code prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, and the government generally respects these prohibitions in practice.[21]

Subject to warrants requested by the prosecutor several Belgian Internet providers including Belgacom, Telenet, Base, Scarlet, EDPnet, Dommel, Proximus, Mobistar, Mobile Vikings, Tele2, and Versatel have been filtering several websites at the DNS level since April 2009. This may be done when the websites are engaged in illegal activities or when they display information that is "contrary to public order or morality".[22] People who browse the Internet using one of these providers and hit a blocked website are redirected to a page that claims that the content of the website is illegal under Belgian law and therefore blocked. In contrast to other countries, the Web sites were filtered not because of displaying pornographic content but in order to guarantee the privacy rights of suspects or criminals who committed sexual offenses against children and whose identity was accordingly revealed in the targeted Web sites.[19]

Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred are criminal offenses punishable by a minimum of eight days (for Holocaust denial) and one month (incitement to hatred) up to one-year in prison and fines, plus a possible revocation of the right to vote or run for public office.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
  2. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Belgium Communications", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  5. ^ Select Formats, Country IP Blocks. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Site is said to be updated daily.
  6. ^ "Products and services of Belgacom and Proximus - Belgacom". Belgacom.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  7. ^ "Billi | Internet, Téléphone, Télévision". Billi.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  8. ^ "Dommel homepage". Dommel.com. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  9. ^ "Edpnet homepage". Edpnet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  10. ^ "Mobistar". Mobistar.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  11. ^ "Pari-Link - Home". Pari-link.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  12. ^ "Scarlet - Internet | Phone | TV | Mobile". Scarlet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  13. ^ "SNOW". Snow.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  14. ^ "Svanto". Svanto.net. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  15. ^ "Accueil - Numericable". Numericable.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  16. ^ "Telenet homepage". Telenet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  17. ^ "Opérateur Internet, TV, GSM et téléphonie en Belgique - VOO". Voo.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  18. ^ "Belgische isp Dommel schaft datalimiet voor Homeconnect af - IT Pro - Nieuws - Tweakers". Life.tweakers.net. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  19. ^ a b "ONI Regional Overview: Europe", OpenNet Initiative, March 2010.
  20. ^ Country report: Belgium", Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House, 11 January 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Belgium", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 22 March 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  22. ^ Grote Belgische firewall geactiveerd (Belgian Grand firewall activated) (Dutch), Luc Van Braekel, LVB.net, 21 April 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2013.

External links[edit]