Internet in Belgium
Belgium has well-developed Internet infrastructure, ranking among the top countries in the world in terms of total number of Internet users, fixed broadband users, mobile broadband users, and Internet hosts. Providers typically offer download speeds of 20 Mbit/s to 230Mbit/s, and upload speeds of 512kbit/s to 25 Mbit/s. Historically, Belgian Internet providers have imposed bandwidth caps on their subscribers, but lately this practice has been disappearing as Belgian Internet infrastructure has expanded.
Law enforcement in Belgium does take action against crimes committed on the Internet and filters websites hosting content that is illegal under Belgian law. Individual freedom of expression online is typically not violated by the government unless the expression could be classified as holocaust denial or incitement to hatred.
- Internet users: 8.6 million, 43rd in the world; 82.0% of the population, 27th in the world (2012).
- Fixed broadband: 3.6 million subscribers, 25th in the world; 34.1% of population, 12th in the world (2012).
- Mobile broadband: 3.5 million subscribers, 46th in the world; 33.7% of population, 48th in the world (2012).
- Internet hosts: 5.2 million, 21st in the world (2012).
- Top level domains: .be .brussels .gent .vlaanderen
- IPv4 addresses: 11.1 million, 0.3% of worldwide total, 1,068 addresses per person (2012).
DSL, ADSL, and VDSL
ADSL first appeared in Belgium in 1999, named Turboline. The first network was set up by the incumbent Belgian telecom operator Belgacom and has been expanding ever since. In 2004 nearly 90% of the entire territory had access to ADSL from Belgacom. Belgacom's daughter company Skynet was the first officially supported ADSL provider, but now many more have gained popularity and almost all provide full triple play services (Television/Internet/Telephone).
Bandwidth and transfer limits
Download speeds in Brussels are now reaching a good level, however, the majority of Belgians have bandwidth caps in place to limit the amount of data users can transfer through their connection. Typically these are between 5GB/month and 1000GB/month and show that the competition in this market has not been strong enough to drive out these practices which have vanished in other western and eastern European countries.
In June 2008 the Belgian Internet providers Dommel and Yabu ADSL announced nationwide ADSL subscriptions without the data limits.
In February 2010 the major operators of Belgium, including Telenet and Belgacom, announced tariffs with unlimited caps, but still with FUP formulas (fair usage policy). However, some of them have adapted the FUP so it only counts on specific hours of the day.
In 2014, Belgium has the world's highest adoption rate of IPv6 connectivity.
- Not individually classified by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), but included in ONI's regional overview for Europe.
- Freedom House reports in its Freedom in the World 2013 report that freedom of speech and the press are guaranteed by the constitution and generally respected by the government and that Internet access is unrestricted.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. Individuals and groups engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. The Belgian constitution and law provide for freedom of speech, including for members of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure freedom of speech and press. The constitution and legal code prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, and the government generally respects these prohibitions in practice.
Subject to warrants requested by the prosecutor several Belgian Internet providers including Belgacom, Telenet, Base, Scarlet, EDPnet, Dommel, Proximus, Mobistar, Mobile Vikings, Tele2, and Versatel have been filtering several websites at the DNS level since April 2009. This may be done when the websites are engaged in illegal activities or when they display information that is "contrary to public order or morality". People who browse the Internet using one of these providers and hit a blocked website are redirected to a page that claims that the content of the website is illegal under Belgian law and therefore blocked. In contrast to other countries, the Web sites were filtered not because of displaying pornographic content but in order to guarantee the privacy rights of suspects or criminals who committed sexual offenses against children and whose identity was accordingly revealed in the targeted Web sites.
Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred are criminal offenses punishable by a minimum of eight days (for Holocaust denial) and one month (incitement to hatred) up to one-year in prison and fines, plus a possible revocation of the right to vote or run for public office.
- Belgian National Internet eXchange (BNIX)
- Belnet, the Belgian national research network.
- DNS Belgium, manager of the .be top level domain.
- "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
- "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
- "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
- "Belgium Communications", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- Select Formats, Country IP Blocks. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Site is said to be updated daily.
- "Products and services of Proximus - Belgacom". Proximus.be. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
- "Billi | Internet, Téléphone, Télévision". Billi.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Dommel homepage". Dommel.com. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Edpnet homepage". Edpnet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Mobistar". Mobistar.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Scarlet - Internet | Phone | TV | Mobile". Scarlet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Surf&Talk VDSL".
- "Telenet homepage VDSL".
- "Accueil - Numericable". Numericable.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Telenet homepage". Telenet.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Opérateur Internet, TV, GSM et téléphonie en Belgique - VOO". Voo.be. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- "Belgische isp Dommel schaft datalimiet voor Homeconnect af - IT Pro - Nieuws - Tweakers". Life.tweakers.net. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- Sayer, Peter (2014-06-26). "IPv6 usage is climbing in Europe, while Asian countries are most ready for 4K TV, says study". PCWorld.
- "Google IPv6 statistics".
- "ONI Regional Overview: Europe", OpenNet Initiative, March 2010.
- Country report: Belgium", Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House, 11 January 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- "Belgium", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 22 March 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
- Grote Belgische firewall geactiveerd (Belgian Grand firewall activated) (Dutch), Luc Van Braekel, LVB.net, 21 April 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Belgian National Internet eXchange (BNIX), website.
- Belnet, website of the Belgian national research network.
- DNS Belgium, website in English.