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Brussels communes seek clearer rules on fibre broadband installation

14:22 07/07/2024

Complaints from residents in all of Brussels' communes have multiplied regarding the way in which fibre-optic broadband is being installed along the facades of homeowners' properties.

Fibre-optic broadband – promising faster internet speeds and better access for all residents – has been installed gradually in the Brussels region for several months.

Many have complained of the seemingly random and non-compliant installation of cables on facades by operators. This situation has been exacerbated by the somewhat vague urban planning rules existing at present.

Etterbeek mayor Vincent De Wolf said that typical wrongdoings included “cables being placed on facades without the residents being informed” or “cables being laid without respecting the buildings’ architectural structure, for example using different colours and putting cables on facades with character”.

These findings have been passed on to all the 19 mayors who would like clarity on the situation. The mayors have decided to join forces with the region and discuss how to move forward at a 10 July meeting on how to standardise installation norms.

Brussels secretary of state for urban planning and heritage, Ans Persoons, agreed that action is needed. She has already tried to clarify the document setting out the rules on installing fibre-optic cables, which she feels are not clear enough.

Developers and property owners “have the right to build and install cables without planning permission if they follow certain conditions, and some respect them more than others, but it is up to us and the local authorities to check that the required conditions are met”, she said.

The communes also need to remind fibre-optic developers of these rules - namely, Orange, Digi and Proximus. The leader in this field is Proximus, which has already covered 70% of the Brussels region with the fibre technology.

Written by Liz Newmark