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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

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

  • Opinion of 9 September 2020 on the bill No. 0642/001 of 17 October 2019 on the reform of social tariffs for electronic communications
  • 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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