Access to emergency services
The Telecom Act makes a distinction between two types of emergency services:
Emergency services providing on-site assistance, including:
- the emergency medical service (100 and 112);
- the fire services (100 and 112);
- the police services (101 and 112);
- the civil protection (100 and 112);
Emergency services providing remote assistance, including:
- the poison centre (070 245 245);
- the centres for suicide prevention (0800 32 123, 02 649 95 55 and 1813);
- the Teleonthaal/ Téléaccueil centres (106, 107 and 108);
- the children’s telephone services (102, 103 and 104);
- the European centre for missing and sexually abused children (110 and 116 000).
The operators of electronic communications services which are not publicly available but which enable calls to public networks must enable access to emergency services through emergency numbers (Article 107, § 2, of the Telecom Act).
The main obligations of the operators providing number-based interpersonal electronic communications services allowing end-users to originate calls to a number in the national or international numbering plan are the following:
- Allowing citizens to call the emergency services for free and without interruption, and directing the call to the most appropriate PSAP (“Public Safety Answering Point” i.e. the call centre of the emergency services), i.e. the competent one for the geographical area from where the emergency call originates (Article 107, § 3, of the Telecom Act).
- Giving emergency services priority to access their networks and services (Article 105/1 of the Telecom Act) and providing the same priority to these services regarding the elimination of defects (Article 105/2 of the Telecom Act);
- Providing, during calls to emergency services providing on-site assistance and to them, the localisation of the caller as well as his/her name and first name (Article 107, § 4, of the Telecom Act);
- Participating in the fight against malicious calls to emergency services providing remote assistance (Article 107/3, § 2, of the Telecom Act);
- Notifying the BIPT of an incident which has an impact on the network and is affecting access to emergency services over this network (Article 107/3, § 2, of the Telecom Act);
- Reimbursing the emergency services providing on-site assistance, via a fund administered by the BIPT, for certain costs these emergency services have been facing (Article 107/1 of the Telecom Act).
Operators providing mobile number-based interpersonal electronic communications services must also allow, among others, the deaf or hearing-impaired or the people with any other disability preventing them from making a voice call to reach the emergency services providing on-site assistance by SMS (Article 107, § 4, of the Telecom Act).
Finally, BIPT facilitates, by means of the unified notification platform (see section “Practical information”), the possibility for emergency services providing on-site assistance to contact an operator in the event of technical difficulties during the emergency call.
BIPT is tasked with monitoring the observance of the legislation and sanctioning possible infringements.
The legal framework is the following:
- Article 2 of the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications (hereinafter “the Telecom Act”) includes useful definitions in this matter: interpersonal communications services (5/2°), interpersonal communications services (5/3°), calling line identification (56°), caller identification (57°), emergency service (58°), emergency number (59°), emergency communication (60°), PSAP (61°), area of activity of a PSAP (62°), most appropriate PSAP (62/1°);
- Articles 105/1 and 105/2 of the Telecom Act treat the issue of access priority of emergency services to the networks and services of operators and for the elimination of defects
- Article 107 of the Telecom Act is dedicated to the obligation for operators to provide access to emergency services. This Article 107 was implemented by the following Decrees and Orders:
- The Royal Decree of 2 February 2007 on the emergency services;
- The Royal Decree of 27 April 2007 pertaining to provisions regarding the provision of location data for emergency calls from mobile networks;
- The Ministerial Order of 4 June 2007 laying down the administrative and technical measures in order to enable emergency services providing remote assistance to combat malicious calls;
- The Ministerial Order of 5 March 2014 laying down the technical solution that operators providing or reselling 2G mobile services have to implement so that the emergency services providing on-the-spot assistance can be reached by means of text messages.
- The Decision of 14 december 2017 requires telecom operators to notify the BIPT of any security incident affecting access to emergency services.
- Article 107/1 of the Telecom Act is dedicated to the fund for emergency services providing on-site assistance. This Article 107/1 was implemented by the following Royal Decrees:
- The Royal Decree of 2 April 2014 laying down the operating conditions of the fund for emergency services providing on-site assistance;
- The Royal Decree of 2 April 2014 laying down the conditions for the reimbursement of any overcompensation by the fund for emergency services providing on-site assistance;
- The Royal Decree of 2 April 2014 laying down the principles on which the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications checks and approves the calculation and the amount of the costs for which a reimbursement has been claimed from the fund for emergency services providing on-site assistance.
Public warning system
At the request of a mayor, a provincial governor or the competent authority of the Brussels conurbation under Article 48 of the Special Act of 12 January 1989 on Brussels institutions, or the minister in charge of Internal Affairs, the operators providing mobile number-based interpersonal communications services must send messages to the population to alert it in case of imminent danger or in the event of a major disaster and to inform it in order to limit the impact.
The applicable legal framework in this matter is the following: Article 106/1 of the Telecom Act and its implementing Royal Decree, i.e. the Royal Decree of 23 February 2018 on the sending of a short text message in case of imminent danger or in the event of a major disaster.
- Decision of 9 September 2021 regarding the closure of the infringement procedure against Proximus for failing to ensure uninterrupted access to emergency services
- BIPT FAQ on the emergency services fund
- Consultation commissioned on 30 September 2013 by the Private Office of the Minister for Economy regarding the draft Royal Decree implementing for "eCall" Articles 107, § 3, and 127 of the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications