Belgium has well-developed Internet infrastructure, ranking among the top countries in the world in terms of total number of Internet users, fixed broadband users, mobile broadband users, and Internet hosts. Providers typically offer download speeds of 30Mbit/s to 1Gbit/s, and upload speeds of 10Mbit/s to 75Mbit/s. Historically, Belgian Internet providers have imposed data caps on their subscribers, but lately this practice has been disappearing as Belgian Internet infrastructure has expanded.

Law enforcement in Belgium does take action against crimes committed on the Internet and filters websites hosting content that is illegal under Belgian law. Individual freedom of expression online is typically not violated by the government unless the expression could be classified as holocaust denial or incitement to hatred.

Status

DSL, ADSL, and VDSL

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).[citation needed]

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

In 2009 the competitors of Belgacom started to offer VDSL2 connections instead of ADSL2+.[citation needed]

Belgacom, rebranded into Proximus in 2014, is the only owner of historical telephone networks, available to households, in Belgium. Other providers use Proximus's infrastructure as well.

Providers

Cable

Belgium also has cable networks. The biggest one, taken over by Telenet in 1997, covers almost all of Flanders. Speeds vary from 100 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s down. [12]

As of June 2020, 93% of Telenet's nodes support Gigabit speeds. If Gigabit speeds are not available on a customer's node, the second fastest speed Telenet offers for residential plans, is 400 Mbit/s.

Even with Gigabit download speeds, upload speeds are limited to 'only' 40 Mbit/s for residential plans. It is believed Telenet will not increase their upload speed, because DSL can not exceed 40 Mbit/s upload due to hardware restrictions, until Proximus rolls out supervectoring. This means that for most households, 40 Mbit/s upload is the maximum they can get. Only providers using fiber and LTE networks offer faster uploads, but home internet over LTE is nowhere near as popular (yet), and FttH networks are still pretty new in Belgium and not widely available.

As of 2020, Telenet and VOO are the only owners of coaxial networks (originally built for transferring radio and TV signals). Other providers use their infrastructure as well.


Providers

Bandwidth and transfer limits

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[15] 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).[16][17] However, some of them have adapted the FUP so it only counts on specific hours of the day.[18]

IPv6 adoption

Further information: IPv6 deployment § Belgium

In 2014, Belgium has the world's highest adoption rate of IPv6 connectivity.[19][20]

Internet censorship

Further information: Websites blocked in Belgium

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.[23]

Subject to warrants requested by the prosecutor all Belgian Internet providers 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".[24] 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.[21]

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.[23]

See also

References

  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 Archived 2009-05-13 at archive.today, Country IP Blocks. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Site is said to be updated daily.
  6. ^ "Edpnet homepage". Edpnet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  7. ^ "Orange". Orange.be. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  8. ^ "Products and services of Proximus - Belgacom". Proximus.be. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  9. ^ "Scarlet - Internet | Phone | TV | Mobile". Scarlet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  10. ^ "Telenet homepage VDSL".
  11. ^ "Surf&Talk VDSL".
  12. ^ "Optie Speedboost 500 Business". telenet.be.be. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  13. ^ "Telenet homepage". Telenet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  14. ^ "Opérateur Internet, TV, GSM et téléphonie en Belgique - VOO". Voo.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  15. ^ "Belgische isp Dommel schaft datalimiet voor Homeconnect af - IT Pro - Nieuws - Tweakers". Life.tweakers.net. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  16. ^ Van Leemputten, Pieterjan (2010-02-08). "Telenet: ongelimiteerd internet aan 100 Mbps" [Telenet: unlimited internet at 100 Mbps]. ZDNet (in Dutch).
  17. ^ van Miltenburg, Olaf (2010-02-05). "Belgacom schrapt downloadlimiet voor duurste abonnement" [Belgacom removes download limit for most expensive subscription]. Tweakers (in Dutch).
  18. ^ Cludts, Dries (2015-03-09). "Telenet verhoogt downloadvolume voor grootverbruikers" [Telenet upgrades download volume for bulk consumers]. ZDNet (in Dutch).
  19. ^ Sayer, Peter (2014-06-26). "IPv6 usage is climbing in Europe, while Asian countries are most ready for 4K TV, says study". PCWorld.
  20. ^ "Google IPv6 statistics".
  21. ^ a b "ONI Regional Overview: Europe", OpenNet Initiative, March 2010.
  22. ^ Country report: Belgium", Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House, 11 January 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Grote Belgische firewall geactiveerd (Belgian Grand firewall activated) Archived 2018-08-17 at the Wayback Machine (in Dutch), Luc Van Braekel, LVB.net, 21 April 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2013.