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Proximus accused of damaging property facades while installing fibre-optic

13:31 08/09/2022

Belgium’s largest telecommunications company, Proximus, stands accused of causing damage to the facades of people’s homes and properties during the installation of their fibre-optic infrastructure.

The fibre-optic system is intended to provide Brussels residents with better, faster internet connections. But installing the needed infrastructure and cables sometimes requires drilling into a building’s exterior and installing a small black box on the outside of every other house.

Homeowners and residents have questioned the works, especially when it comes to historic buildings that are supposed to be protected as a matter of heritage.

“They drilled into the front of my building,” one such resident on Rue Capouillet in Saint-Gilles told RTBF.

“It's a façade listed by the region as being of heritage interest and they drilled into the blue stone without prior notice, even though the workmen were supposed to go through the cellar. When I got home that night, there was this cable on my facade.”

He said the holes drilled into their home are irreparable and that other residents on the street have voiced similar complaints about damage done to their properties.

“They told us they were going to do some work but they didn't tell us they were going to damage our building, otherwise we would have said no,” another owner said.

Proximus says the blame for the damage falls on the subcontractor hired to handle the installation.

“It was a mistake by the subcontractor. This kind of problem rarely happens,” said a spokesperson.

“You have to know that hundreds of workers are working every day to make progress on this project. We are very careful when a building is classified as historic and we try not to cause problems. This is one of the reasons why we are surprised and amazed at what happened in Saint-Gilles.”

The spokesperson said Proximus intends to repair the defects as soon as possible.

Residents are given 10 days' notice before any works are carried out, along with a contact number for any comments or concerns.

“In Belgium, Proximus connects an additional home or business to fibre every 15 seconds,” the spokesperson added. “Today, fibre is available in approximately 40% of the whole of Brussels. We are aiming for 100% by 2026.”

Proxmius says that less than 1% of installations result in a complaint, but based on the assertion that an installation is done every 15 seconds, this means a complaint about every 30 minutes.

Written by Helen Lyons