Coucke turns Durbuy into a super fast internet showcase

Durbuy is the showcase for ultra-fast Internet in Wallonia. Marc Coucke convinced telecoms player Proximus to roll out 5G and fiber faster. But what exactly is Proximus doing in Durbuy?

If it’s up to Proximus CEO Guillaume Boutin, tourists in the woods around Durbuy will find not only wild boars but also dinosaurs. Through augmented reality, of course. The telecommunications company announced on Thursday that it will provide Durbuy with ultra-fast fiber and 5G connections, together with La Petite Merveille (LPM), the company of Marc Coucke and Bart Maerten.

Durbuy could become the first Walloon city to benefit from 5G coverage in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band, essential for large-scale deployment in the coming years. The procedure with the ISSeP regulator is ongoing. Both the city of Durbuy and Proximus are confident that the permits will be granted shortly.

If you drive from Brussels to Durbuy, you will be 9 kilometers offline. According to Couke, that is no longer possible. People want to be connected everywhere and at all times.

“Durbuy has learned not to rest on your laurels,” says Coucke. “If Durbuy wants to take advantage of his authentic assets, he has to adapt to the times.” That means: Durbuy must be better connected. If you drive from Brussels to Durbuy, you will be 9 kilometers offline. According to Couke, that is no longer possible. People want to be connected everywhere and at all times. ‘Not for convenience, then for security reasons.’

business seminars

La Petite Merveille and Proximus join forces to turn Durbuy into a smart city laboratory. It is the investment company Alychlo van Coucke that provides the money for the project. Both sides don’t want to reveal exactly how much Proximus and Alychlo are investing. “These are significant amounts,” says Coucke.

To be clear: Alychlo took the initiative for this project. La Petite Merveille is a popular destination for corporate seminars. In these hybrid times, you should also be able to allow people to participate via live streaming. The current infrastructure in Durbuy does not allow this sufficiently. Even making phone calls is almost impossible without problems.

Coucke stresses that the collaboration with Proximus not only benefits La Petite Merveille. ‘All Durbuy residents, businessmen and visitors will be able to enjoy the innovation.’ The mayor of Durbuy, Philippe Bontemps (CDH), who was also present at the press conference, smiled.

crowd management

The question is why exactly Proximus has taken over the project. The telecoms player is busy replacing its copper network with fiber. He wants to provide 4.2 million families and businesses or 70 percent of Belgium with a fiber optic connection by 2028. Over time, he hopes to provide all families and businesses with super-fast internet.

Faced with this observation, Guillaume Boutin responds that it is not a story of one or the other, but of both. ‘Proximus is on track to achieve the goals’. According to the telecoms player, the collaboration with La Petite Merveille in Durbuy was an opportunity. “It’s an interesting test case to see how the latest technologies can also work in more remote areas. This will be the most advanced network in the region,” Boutin said.

virtual reality park

First, work will be done on the basic connectivity of the city. No longer will merchants have to point their payment terminal skyward in the near future in the hope that there will be enough internet to complete a payment. Kayakers who get into trouble on the Ourthe will always have range all the way. And on busy days, the network will help authorities better manage crowds in small but sometimes busy Durbuy.

Coucke is convinced that technology can not only improve connectivity and security at Durbuy. The experience can also be taken to a higher level thanks to augmented reality. Should we expect a virtual reality park in Durbuy? Not right away, says Coucke. ‘We are thinking more about embedded applications. But a walk through the dinosaur skeletons might be enough. He stresses that applications must always match the authentic character of Durbuy.

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