Belgian Government Drafts Legislation to Appoint 112 Backup Operator

In a bid to bolster the reliability and availability of emergency services, the Belgian government has embarked on a significant reform, deciding to appoint a second operator responsible for handling 112 emergency call routing alongside Proximus.

The decision, greenlit by the cabinet and spearheaded by Minister Petra de Sutter, entails crucial changes in the telecom law, with a draft legislation already forwarded to parliament for approval, as reported by public broadcaster VRT.

The initiative, expected to come into effect this year pending parliamentary approval, aims to introduce a backup system initially covering emergency numbers 101 and 112. However, Minister de Sutter anticipates the extension of this service to encompass other critical hotlines, including those for suicide prevention, poison control, and the European center for missing children.

The selection of the second operator will be determined through a transparent public tender process, marking a strategic move following a prior announcement last October. At that time, Belgium outlined plans to mandate redundant routing for emergency calls, underlining the necessity for calls to be routed via networks of at least two providers, a measure aimed at ensuring uninterrupted access to emergency services.

Instances of impaired routing underscored the urgency for such reforms, with incidents recorded in previous years highlighting the shortcomings of relying solely on one network provider. Notable disruptions occurred on multiple occasions, including April 5, 2019, January 7 and 8, 2021, and August 30 and September 19 of 2023.


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