Broadband Internet, TV, and Mobile Phone providers in Brussels and Belgium
Are you moving to Belgium and looking for information about internet, tv and phone line providers? Or maybe you have recently moved there and are looking to compare and see which offer suits you best. In the following article, we will cover details of what is needed to set up a contract for each of these services, as well as information about the main providers.
Internet Providers in Belgium
The Internet in Belgium is quite fast, though not every place has a fibre optic network. Most of the connections will be cable networks, which is more than enough for most households. But one of the important things to do when moving to a new home is to check the connection speeds to make sure that it will cater to your needs if they are high.
What is a cable operator? It is a body responsible for managing the cable television network which is also used for internet in Belgium.
There are 2 cable operators in Belgium:
- Telenet in Flanders
- VOO (Nethys / Brutélé) in Wallonia.
These cable distributors also share the market in the various Brussels municipalities.
The advantage of coaxial cable is that it provides an excellent signal and therefore enables efficient navigation. These providers can also offer internet access to fixed telephony as well as digital and interactive television via cable using a decoder.
First, let's cover expected speed needs and data consumption by household size and activities, and then we will get into how to check your new residence.
Internet Providers in Brussels
There are various internet providers in Brussels, but it does depend on which area you live in. As we mentioned earlier, the two cable providers share the market in Brussels, so it will depend on which of the other service providers are partnered with them.
Most providers will have a tool on their website to share with you their service coverage in your area. That will include not just internet service, but also other services such as mobile, TV, and landlines.
Internet Speeds in Belgium
If you are just a casual internet user, aiming for email, web surfing and the occasional youtube video, then 11 Mbps should be enough for you.
If you are living alone, and have more demanding needs, like video streaming, music streaming and the likes, then a 50 Mbps connection will do you good.
If you are more than one person and you are looking for video content streaming, like netflix or disney +, music streaming, like spotify or apple music, and are expecting more than one person or service to be using the connection at the same time, then we recommend higher speeds of 125 Mbps.
Finally, if you have all of the above, and have a gamer living at home, then you will want a connection speed of 400 Mbps to handle the bandwidth reliant graphics for online gaming.
Most providers in Belgium will have offers above 30 Mbps.
Data Package Volumes and Sizes
One other thing to consider is the download volume, as in how many GBs of data are you allowed to download per month as part of your plan. Some plans are limited, with extra GB usage charged. And some plans are unlimited data, where you can download as much as you want with no extra cost. The limited plans are normally on the lower end of the speed and price scale, so it is important to know what your download consumption will be before you contract a service.
Be sure to always check the fine print, as some of the unlimited download plans do have a clause of throttling (or slowing down your speed) once you exceed a certain download volume.
The services that will consume the most download volume are normally streaming services, especially video streaming. We say that, because even though gaming uses a lot of data, you will be on the higher end of the plan scales, which are normally unlimited data volumes.
For one hour of Netflix video streaming in standard definition, you will use around 1GB of data volume. In HD mode, you will use up to 3GB per hour.
So, if you will watch 2-3 hours of Netflix a day on standard definition, that is 60-90 GB a month. In HD, that would be 180-270 GB per month. If you have a limited data plan, you might want to stick to standard definition, especially if you have other services that you are using.
Most providers in Belgium will have offers above 50 GB data per month, and unlimited offers.
Comparing Internet Providers in Belgium
The main internet providers in Belgium are:
With Scarlet being at the lower end of the connection speeds spectrum, and Voo being at the higher end. Having said that, Voo has a very good price to package value. For example, Scarlet will provide you with an internet speed of 30mbps and 50GB of download volume for 23 €/month, while Voo will charge you 27.95 €/month (around 5 euros more) for a 75 Mbps (more than double the speed) and 100 GB volume (double the data package).
Other than just the internet, providers will offer bundled services that might be attractive to you. These could include, landlines, mobile phone lines, and TV services. One of the benefits of subscribing to a TV service from a provider, rather than just relying on free tv or your regular video streaming services, is that you can get access to international English content and news stations, such as BBC, CNN, as well as sports stations so you can follow your favorite teams.
TV Providers and Subscriptions in Belgium
In Belgium, each area, Wallonia and Flanders, controls the laws and practices of broadcasting tv channels. There are also separate public tv broadcasters, one for each area.
In Wallonia, the public broadcaster is called RTBF, and they operate 5 french language tv channels as well as a number of radio stations. You can watch the 5 channels for free using a standard antenna and a tv that is able to decode DVB-T2 signals.
The DVB-T/T2 standard is a common digital video broadcasting standard across most of Europe and the UK, so if your tv was purchased recently in this area you should be fine. You can check your tv box for a DVB logo.
In Flanders, the public broadcaster is called VRT, and they operate 4 dutch language tv channels. The channels run by VRT are for free, but they do not operate over a DVB-T system, so you will need to subscribe to a cable package to receive them.
Most TV subscriptions in Belgium are delivered by cable, with over 93% of households being connected to the cable network. Other options include DVB-T2, IPTV, and satellite.
We would normally recommend you get a cable tv subscription as part of your broadband pack (see list of internet providers above). Some of the providers also give you a digital decoder so you can save programs to view later, as well as IPTV (video streaming) options so you can watch your favourite programmes on other devices such as your mobile phone, tablet, or computer.
When it comes to tv programming, good news for expats is that all content is in its native language with local subtitles depending on the region you live in. That is except for children’s programming which is normally dubbed in the local language. So when watching American or UK programmes and movies, these will be in English.
Mobile Phone Providers in Belgium
There are three main mobile network infrastructure owners in Belgium, but a multitude of providers who can give you services using the three main networks.
The main network owners are:
And the other mobile service providers include:
- Mobile Vikings
When shopping for a mobile line in Belgium, be sure to check how many minutes of call time you get, and your data package size. There are some plans with unlimited calls and texts, while others might be limited to say 1,000 minutes of call time/texts a month.
With data packages you will normally find each provider will give you two to three tiers, for example a light package at 5GB, a larger package at 15 GB, and a third package at 25 GB. It is very rare to find unlimited mobile data packages though some providers will give you access to free public hotspots that you can use while out of the house to reduce your mobile data consumption.
We recommend getting a package deal with your broadband provider rather than getting a separate phone line subscription as you can save money that way, and have everything on one bill.