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The universal service includes a minimum set of specific services to all end-users at an affordable price.  

It is composed of two elements:  

  • The geographic element ; 
  • The social element. 

The Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications (hereafter “ECA”) and its annex (hereafter “ECA annex”) lay down provisions applicable to the universal service. You will find below a short summary of these provisions. For more information, we recommend reading the relevant provisions. 

Each year, BIPT draws up a monitoring report concerning the universal service. Reports are available on this website.

Documents

  • Communication of 27 December 2019 regarding the monitoring of the universal telecommunications service 2019
  • Communication of 18 December 2018 regarding the monitoring of the universal telecommunications service 2018
  • Communication of 27 December 2017 regarding the monitoring of the universal telecommunications service 2016-2017
  • Update of 11 September 2017 of the pinion of 18 February 2009 on the determination and the conditions of provision of the basic identification data by telephone service providers to the publishers of directories and to the providers of Directory Enquiry Services
  • Communication of 20 December 2016 regarding the monitoring of the universal telecommunications service 2015-2016
  • Communication of 22 December 2015 regarding the monitoring of the universal telecommunications service 2014-2015
  • Report on the monitoring of the universal service obligations lifted and report on the execution of the universal service in the field of telecommunications in 2013
  • Decision of 26 September 2014 on the neutralisation of certain error messages on access lines in compliance with Article 7, § 2, of the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications
  • Draft decision of 24 June 2014 on the neutralisation of certain error messages on access lines in compliance with Article 7, § 2, of the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications
  • Proposal regarding the definition of the bitrate for functional Internet access and opinion by the BIPT Council of 13 January 2014 on the geographical element of the universal service
  • Consultation regarding the draft proposal on the definition of the bitrate for functional Internet access in the context of the geographical element of the universal service and draft opinion on the geographical element of the universal service
  • Opinion of 24 May 2013 on the lifting of the universal service obligations concerning the provision of the universal directory enquiry service and the provision of the universal directory
  • Decision of 6 May 2013 on the abolition of universal service obligations regarding the provision of public pay phones and other access points to public voice telephony services
  • Draft decision on the annulment of the universal service obligations regarding the provision of public payphones and other access points to public voice telephony services
  • Draft opinion on the removal of the universal service obligations regarding the provision of the universal directory enquiry service and the provision of the universal directory
  • Consultation at the request of the Private Office of the Economy Minister of 6 july 2012 regarding two draft Royal Decrees concerning the social element of the Universal Service
  • Report on the implementation of the Universal telecommunications service in 2010 and recent developments
  • Draft decision of 12 April 2011 on the methodology to allocate the costs related to the database of the social element of the universal telecommunications service and to the calculation elements specific to the year 2006
  • Report on the execution of the universal telecommunications service in 2009 and the recent developments
  • Summary of the public consultation on the bill amending the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications concerning the social telephone tariff
  • Public consultation at the request of the Infrastructure Commission of the House of Representatives on a bill amending the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications concerning the social telephone tariff
  • Report on the execution of the universal telecommunications service in 2008 and the recent developments
  • Decision of 17 June 2009 on a dispensation request submitted by Belgacom S.A. according to Article 3, par. 2, of the Annex to the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications
  • Summary of the consultation on the methodology to allocate the costs related to the database of the social element of the universal telecommunications service and to the calculation elements specific to the years 2006 and 2007
  • Opinion of 18 February 2009 on the determination and the conditions of provision of the basic identification data by telephone service providers to the publishers of directories and the providers of directory enquiry services
  • Consultation on an application for derogation introduced by Belgacom S.A.
  • Report of the BIPT Council on the execution of the universal telecommunications service in 2007 and the recent developments
  • Consultation of 11 December 2008 regarding the draft decision on the methodology to allocate the costs related to the database of the social element of the universal telecommunications service
  • Report on the evolution of universal telecommunication service in 2006 / Forecast 2008
  • Summary of the public consultation on a draft decision of the BIPT acting as manager of the universal service fund for social tariffs of 16 May 2007
  • Draft decision of the BIPT acting as manager of the universal service fund for social tariffs of 16 May 2007 cancelling the decision of 30 October 2006
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 2005
  • Summary of the contributions to the public consultation on the methodology to calculate compensations between operators for the social element of the universal service
  • Decision of 30 October 2006 regarding the methodology to calculate compensations between operators for the social element of the universal service
  • Consultation regarding the methodology to determine the compensations made to each operator for the social component of the universal service
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 2004
  • Methodology for the calculation of the net cost of the telecommunication universal service – Provisional cost of the year 2003
  • Decision of the BIPT of 17 May 2005 regarding the provisonal assessment of the net cost of the universal service for the year 2003
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 2003
  • Draft decision on the provisional assessment of the net cost of the universal service for the year 2003
  • Communication of the BIPT regarding the net cost of the universal service
  • Consultation on the calculation methodology of the net cost of the telecommunications universal service
  • Summary of the answers to the consultation on the calculation method of the net cost of the universal service
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 2001
  • BIPT consultation on the calculation methodology of the net cost of the telecommunications universal service
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 2002
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 2000
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 1999
  • Evolution of the universal service during the year 1998
  • BIPT opinion of 29 September 2000 to the Minister of Telecommunications on the tariff reform SA Belgacom intends to implement on 1 October 2000

Geographic element 

Art. 70 ECA, Art. 3 to 21 and Art. 41 of the ECA annex 

The fixed geographic element of the universal service is composed of the provision at a fixed location throughout the territory: 

  • of the basic public telephone service; 
  • of a connection to a public communication network enabling end-users to:  
    • make and receive phone calls; 
    • exchange facsimile communications and data communications; 
    • have a functional Internet access. The bitrate for functional Internet access has been set at a minimum of 1 Mbps, every day of the year, at all times except for one hour a day maximum; 
    • have the possibility, in the event of non-payment of the telephone bill, of being called by another subscriber, and the possibility to call the emergency services; 
    • have a technical assistance service. 

These services are provided to anyone reasonably requesting it, regardless of his/her geographical location.  

Currently, no provider of the geographic element of the universal service has been designated. 

Social element 

Art. 74 ECA, Art. 22 of the ECA annex 

The social element of the universal service consists in the granting of tariff reductions for fixed telephony and/or fixed Internet: 

  • A 50% discount on the installation of the telephone connection; 
  • A 40% subscription discount for fixed telephony or fixed Internet (max. € 8.4); 
  • A discount on call charges of € 3.1;  
  • An exception is made for persons who have been granted an integration income: the benefit from a discount on communications costs and a discount on subscription, provided that the subscription discount concerns fixed Internet and not fixed telephony. 

The following categories of persons may be granted the social tariff: 

  • Persons aged over 65, meeting certain criteria regarding their income and family situation; 
  • Persons aged over 18, who have a handicap of at least 66%, meeting certain criteria regarding their income and family situation; 
  • Persons who have been granted the integration income pursuant to the Act of 26 May 2002; 
  • Person with a hearing loss of at least -70 dB for the best ear; 
  • Persons having undergone a laryngectomy; 
  • Blind war veterans. 

The social tariff can be granted by any provider of a publicly available electronic communications service whose turnover with regard to publicly available electronic communications services exceeds fifty million euros, or by any other operator who declared its intention to BIPT to provide the social element of the universal service. 

Application procedure for a social tariff 

  • The customer submits the application for a social tariff to his/her operator. 
  • The operator encodes the application in the STTS application:  
    • A file with the status “Waiting for activation” means that the consultation of the databases of the Crossroads Bank for Social Security revealed that the customer is entitled to benefit from the social tariff. 
    • A file with the status “Temporary refusal” means that the consultation of the databases of the Crossroads Bank for Social Security did not allow to check all the conditions and that BIPT will carry out these checks manually. The customer will be asked by post to provide BIPT with the necessary documents to prove his or her entitlement. The customer will be informed of BIPT’s decision by post. 
  • The operator will be informed of BIPT’s decision via the STTS application. 
  • If the customer is entitled to benefit from the social tariff, the operator shall fill in the data in the STTS application and amend the invoice following the date of the positive decision. 

In case of transfer of the social tariff 

If a customer wishes his/her social tariff to be transferred to another operator, the new operator shall encode the transfer request in the STTS application. 

In case of problems with the STTS application, the operator can contact BIPT in order to find a solution.

Documents

  • Communication of 4 November 2014 on the monitoring of the provision of information by operators to disabled people
  • Decision of 28 March 2013 on the publication by operators of the information on the products and services destined for users with a disability
  • Consultation on the draft decision concerning the publication by operators of information on products and services for disabled users
  • Decision of 21 October 2011 on the methodology to allocate the costs related to the database of the social element of the universal telecommunications service and to the calculation elements
  • Decision of 22 April 2009 on the methodology to allocate the costs related to the database of the social element of the universal telecommunications service and to the calculation elements specific to the years
  • Decision of 20 June 2007 acting as manager of the universal service fund for social tariffs to withdraw the decision of 30 October 2006

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