(Reuters) – Belgian telephone, internet and television service provider Proximus reported higher than expected first-quarter net profit on Thursday, and said market regulator BIPT has granted it and four other companies temporary 5G licences.
BIPT has offered 40MHz of channel bandwidth each to Proximus, Cegeka, Entropia, Telenet and Orange Belgium, it said.
These temporary licences will remain valid until the 5G auction, delayed indefinitely in Belgium due to a disagreement between regional governments over proceedings, the company added.
On April 1, Proximus became the first operator to launch fifth generation mobile network in the country, using spectrum in existing holdings.
However on April 14 municipal authorities in one of the first cities to receive the technology, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, said the operator had paused its roll-out amid protests by citizens concerned by the health impact of 5G radio waves.
Commenting on the stoppage, Proximus Chief Executive Guillaume Boutin said: “We are in close contact with all concerned municipalities, and with the Walloon region”.
Boutin said the company is increasing efforts to demystify environmental and health aspects of 5G.
Proximus, which is 53.5% owned by the Belgian government, reported consensus-beating first-quarter net income of 153 million euros ($166.2 million) and domestic core profit slightly above expectations at 428 million euros.
It reiterated all the targets announced on March 31, adding that the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on its results will become more pronounced in the second quarter.
Rival Telenet also reported a net income beat and slightly trimmed its full-year guidance due to the COVID-19-related uncertainties.
(Reporting by Maria Trybus; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jan Harvey)