In recent months, a significant shift has been happening in Belgium’s telecommunications landscape, particularly for Proximus customers. The national telecom operator has been gradually phasing out VDSL connections for over 700,000 households and businesses that now have access to its new fiber optic network. This move leaves many wondering about their options, especially given the lack of choice and the potential for increased subscription costs.
Proximus’s fiber optic expansion
Proximus has been actively deploying fiber optic cables across the country for several years, offering significantly higher internet speeds compared to traditional copper (VDSL) cables. As part of this technological upgrade, the operator is discontinuing old VDSL connections for customers who have access to the fiber network, aiming to avoid maintaining two parallel networks. However, this transition comes with a catch: fiber optic subscriptions are priced considerably higher than the VDSL packages.
Communication is key
Consumer protection organization Test-Achats emphasizes the importance of clear communication with affected customers. They argue that customers should be timely informed about the discontinuation of their current VDSL connection and the mandatory switch to fiber optic. This advance notice is crucial to prevent any interruptions in internet connectivity, an essential service in today’s era of widespread teleworking.
The cost of switching to fiber optic
Test-Achats also insists on transparency regarding the impact of the switch on subscription costs and internet experience. The cheapest internet subscription with Proximus is set to jump from 28 euros (VDSL) to 42.95 euros (fiber) per month—a significant price hike. In its defense, Proximus claims to offer "the internet of the future" but continues to impose download limits on its customers.
Proximus has stated it will offer a commercial gesture to VDSL customers forced to switch to fiber, but the specifics of this offer, including the amount and duration, remain unclear.
If you believe you don’t need fiber optic due to your moderate internet usage, you have several options. You could switch to a competing operator such as Orange, Telenet, or VOO, opting for a cheaper basic internet subscription. Alternatively, if you’re interested in fiber optic but wary of Proximus’s regular price increases, consider providers like Edpnet, which currently offers a fiber connection for 35.95 euros per month.
What this means for consumers
The mandatory switch to fiber optic by Proximus raises questions about consumer choice, transparency, and the affordability of cutting-edge technology. While the benefits of fiber optic—such as higher speeds and better reliability—are undeniable, the transition process and associated costs have left many customers searching for clarity and alternatives.
As Belgium strides towards a more connected future, the move to fiber optic internet is inevitable for many. However, this transition should not come at the expense of consumer choice or transparency. Affected Proximus customers should weigh their options carefully, considering both the long-term benefits of fiber optic and the immediate financial implications of the switch. With proper communication and competitive offerings from other providers, consumers can make informed decisions that best suit their internet needs and budget.