Orange Belgium, La Grand Poste create 5G Lab in Liège

After opening next-generation mobile laboratory in Antwerp, inviting companies to discover, test and develop innovative use cases on standalone network technology, telco signs up Wallonia tech hub as customer

With the inauguration of its first 5G Lab in October 2021, Orange Belgium aimed to unlock the full potential of 5G, particularly the capabilities of 5G standalone (SA), to help develop and test new Industry 4.0 use cases. Now the telco has forged a partnership with La Grand Poste of Liège for its second such facility in the country.

When it launched its Antwerp base in 2021 following a number of co-innovation initiatives with partners and large companies over the previous 12 months, Orange expressed confidence that it had taken an important step in 5G development.

The new 5G Lab in Liège, set to open in the first half of 2022, will be a technology hub dedicated to creative companies and innovation that will aim to demystify new technology and demonstrate its possibilities and applications. The lab will also be used to develop and test innovative 5G applications in collaboration with customers, prospects and partners.

Located in the heart of Wallonia city in a renovated emblematic building, La Grand Poste is regarded by Orange as having distinguished itself as one of Wallonia’s most important and creative tech hubs. The site is described as “a place where to work, but also to meet, shine, learn, exchange, train and have fun”.

It offers nearly 8,000m2 to a community of creative entrepreneurs with a focus on the digital, media and entertainment industries. The building comprises five interconnected spaces for co-working: a food market, a bar with rooftop, a craft brewery, a place for hosting startup support programmes, and a campus equipped with studios for students from the University of Liège.

In the new partnership, local entrepreneurs, the university world, startups and economic and social players will have open access to new technology, supported by experts from Orange Belgium who will help with the development of new 5G solutions and will accompany pilot projects.

The telco believes that those who are interested in the technology will be able to try out its functionalities and access equipment that has been certified by Orange’s teams, such as routers, smartphones, tablets and connected glasses, and they will also be able to bring and test their own equipment.

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The inauguration of the La Grand Poste Lab will bring the number of Orange 5G Labs to 10. Many local companies from the industrial sector and universities have already expressed interest in the project. Orange said candidates for developing new use cases can also benefit from the expertise available in the group’s rapidly growing international network of 5G Labs in locations such as Paris, Lille, Marseilles and Bucharest.

“After the opening of our first lab in Antwerp and its great success in generating a positive dynamic in the region, we are delighted to be able to develop 5G and its applications in Wallonia as well, and especially in the exceptional framework of La Grand Poste,” said Werner De Laet, chief enterprise, innovation and wholesale officer of Orange Belgium.

“There we will be able to facilitate the innovation and creativity of local actors and demonstrate 5G’s potential in a fully transparent manner, while basing ourselves on a first-class national and international network. Moreover, this approach supports the Walloon economic recovery plan and fits within its objectives to support startups, stimulate innovation, foster sustainability and assist training and economic development.” 

La Grand Poste CEO Gérôme Vanherf added: “We are very happy to announce this cooperation with Orange, which fully corresponds to our vision of La Grand Poste – a place designed to facilitate encounters between all the players in the innovation ecosystems and thus generate high-potential projects. Facilitating access to technological innovations such as 5G thus forms a part of our mission, but of course not at just any price.

“The objective of this collaboration with Orange 5G Lab will be to help everyone better understand the potential of this technology and its future concrete applications in key sectors such as health, mobility, the energy transition, the media, cultural and creative industries. We are convinced that this 5G Lab will offer strong advantages for our community and for the broader Liège region.”

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