The Belgian legislation imposes a number of obligations in terms of transparency on electronic communications operators. The obligations vary depending on the type of operator, for instance an Internet access service provider, a provider of interpersonal communication services, a provider of transmission services for providing broadcasting or M2M services. The obligations are summarised below.

For more details, we invite you to read Articles 108 to 112 of the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications (hereinafter “ECA”).

Contracts

Art. 108 ECA

The majority of the contracts concluded between operators and consumers and the standard contracts concluded with micro companies, small companies, non-profit micro organisations or small non-profit organisations, shall specify in a clear and comprehensive manner the information listed in Article 108, § 1, of the ECA. This includes the operator’s identity and address, the information on the services provided and, if applicable, the rates applied as well as information on the duration of the contract. 
In the case of Internet access contracts, the list should be read in conjunction with the explanation that should be provided according to Article 4 of the Open Internet Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and the BIPT Decision of 2 May 2017 regarding the communication of the speed of a fixed or mobile broadband connection. 

The contract shall be updated each time it is amended. 

Information from the list should be provided in a detailed and clear manner, prior to the actual conclusion of the contract and generally on a sustainable data support.

Additionally certain information has to be provided in a summary of the contract as well.

As a rule, this summary also has to be provided before concluding the contract (if not the contract can only become applicable once the consumer or protected business user has given his consent following receipt of the summary). 

An implementing regulation of the European Commission determines which information has to be included in the contract summary. 
The contract summary has to be legible and has to be drafted as concisely as possible.

Invoices (Article 110 ECA)

Basic invoice

The operator shall send to its customers a detailed basic invoice every three months.

This invoice:

  • has to clearly mention the tariff simulator [LINK];
  • has to mention if the contract has been concluded for a definite or an indefinite period and, where appropriate, at what date a residual value is no longer payable for the terminal equipment that is linked to the subscription, or at what date a termination fee is no longer payable (in case of a fixed-term contract);
  • has to mention in a legible and explicit manner, in case of provision of internet access, the facilities offered to keep an e-mail address once the contract has been terminated, at least once a year.
  • Each invoice has to mention the Easy Switch number, which is useful in case you switch fixed operators.

Here is an overview of the information which must be included in the invoices, based on the Ministerial Order of 12 November 2009:

  • Per category of separate service:
    • A description of the separate category of service that was provided during the reference period of the invoice or for which a payment in advance was asked;
    • The number of times that the single tariff was applied during the reference period;
    • The total amount invoiced;
  • The possible discounts and promotional terms;
  • The total amount of the invoice to pay;
  • For any fixed-term contract, the expiration date of said contract.

More detailed invoice

A more detailed invoice, free of charge, on demand, will give detailed information on the calls and Internet consumption. The client may request this invoice when he/she desagrees with the amount to pay.

Mention of the most advantageous tariff plan

Articles 109 and 110/1 ECA

The operator has to indicate at least once a year on a durable medium which tariff plan would be most advantageous to the users based on their consumption profile.  

In addition, the users may require the operator to indicate which tariff plan is the most advantageous for them. The operator has to answer within two weeks at the latest.

Information concerning tariff plans

Publication of information

Art. 111, §1 ECA

Providers of Internet access services and providers of interpersonal communication services subject to terms of use are obliged to publish comparable, clear, comprehensive and up-to-date transparent information as listed in Article 111, § 1, of the ECA, per service and if necessary, per tariff plan. This includes contact details, description of the services, aftersales, maintenance services and customer services provided, general terms and conditions, information for disabled end-users, information on access to the emergency services and information on complaint handling, among which about the complaint handling with the operator in the first place and with the Office of the Ombudsman for Telecommunications afterwards. 

At the request of the BIPT, operators have to notify the BIPT of the information they will publish in advance for the BIPT to be able to validate the information or to request the necessary adaptations.

Tariff simulator

Art. 111, §2, ECA - besttariff.be - Royal Decree of 2 September 2018 on the automatic link between the consumption profile and the electronic tariff comparison application on the website of the Institute

Within the framework of the implementation of BIPT’s tariff simulator, each operator shall input its tariff plans, as well as their modifications, in the electronic tariff comparison application on BIPT’s website at least 15 working days prior to their publication. At the same time, the operator shall provide the Institute with a comprehensive description of any new tariff plan, any change to a tariff plan as well as an electronic link to the web page describing the tariff plan concerned.

Alert mechanisms

Art. 112 ECA - Royal Decree of 9 July 2013 on alert messages aiming at controlling the costs of electronic communications services - Decision of 20 November 2012 regarding the maximum amounts to be proposed by operators to their customers in accordance with Article 112 of the Act on electronic communications

The law provides for the implementation of a mechanism, offered by operators, allowing customers to check the cost of electronic communications services.

Here are the main characteristics of this mechanism:

  • It concerns post-paid mobile telephony;
  • It provides for a double alert: the first one concerning the subscription fee and the second one concerning a cap on top of the subscription fee, that the customer must define with his/her operator;
  • By default, this cap is set at € 50, VAT included (on top of the subscription fee), but other caps can be set (see the BIPT Council Decision of 20 November 2012, page 5).

Documents

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