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ACM: emergency number 112 can now be reached using 4G and Wi-Fi calling with all mobile operators

Emergency number 112 can now be reached using 4G (voice over LTE) and Wi-Fi calling with all mobile telecom operators in the Netherlands. This has been mandatory since the policy rule regarding calls to Dutch emergency number 112 came into effect in July last year. Still, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in late 2021 had to confront telecom operators with the fact that, in some situations, 112 could not be reached. All telecom operators now comply with the policy rule.

The policy rule applies to the voice services (for regular phone calls) that telecom operators offer and to the thereto-related technologies that they use, not for voice services such as WhatsApp or Facetime.

European 112 Day

“It’s wonderful that we can share this news on European 112 Day”, says Manon Leijten, Member of the Board of ACM. “Being able to reach the emergency number easily in emergency situations can be a life-saver. That is why it is crucial that 112 can be reached using all technologies for mobile phone calls, including 4G and Wi-Fi calling.” To that end, the operating systems of most mobile phones still need to be updated. “Now that the telecom operators have made it possible to reach 112 using Wi-Fi calling and 4G, the phone manufacturers have to make the next move. They need to add that capability to the operating systems of mobile phones”, says Ms. Leijten. “Then the emergency number can always be reached in the future as well.”

Sending location details

It is critical that, when somebody calls 112, the emergency call center receives their location and identity details, so that first responders are able to be get there swiftly. In most cases, this process already takes place smoothly. Location details are determined using the locations of the towers to which the device is connected. If the mobile phone itself has more accurate location details, those details will be sent as well.

Landline

When somebody calls 112 using a landline, the emergency call center receives the address that is linked to the connection’s registration details. This is not always the right location. For example, different offices of the same company may call using a number that is linked to the head office’s address. Under new European rules, which will come into force in the Netherlands in several weeks, telecom operators must send the actual, geographical location to the emergency call center. However, there are no easy and simple solutions to make this technically possible anytime soon, so ACM will sit down and discuss this with telecom operators.

Sending identity details

The emergency call center must also be able to see if certain numbers have no identity details linked to them, for example if somebody calls using an anonymous prepaid number. It takes time to ask for identity details during such calls. Over the past few months, mobile telecom operators have made progress with regard to this point though, and have, at the insistence of ACM, submitted information about prepaid numbers to the emergency call center. ACM continues to make sure that the emergency call center receives all of the necessary information.

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