Article 110, European Electronic Communications Code

What you need to know


EU legislation on implementing an effective Public Warning System (PWS) / "Reverse 112"

                                                        EU Directive

          Article 110, European Electronic Communications Code (EECC)

The following provides our briefing on the December 2018 legislation:

Article 110(1) expects Member States to implement an effective PWS by June 2022 that enables competent authorities to send alerts about “imminent or developing major emergencies and disasters” via the national Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to all users of Mobile Telephone Handsets (MTHs) within the geographically defined warning/affected area.  The two technologies available today to achieve this are 

 1.  Location-Based SMS (LBSMS), and/or (a hybrid of both)

 2.  Cell Broadcast (CB).

 See also Recitals 293 and 294 below for additional essential detail.

Article 110(2) allows Member States to implement an alternative approach to 110(1) provided the PWS is as effective in terms of:

 1.  Reach, and

 2.  Easy for the public in the warning/affected area to receive. 

See also Recital 294 below for additional essential detail.

                                      Article 110 - Public Warning System

"110(1).    By 21 June 2022, Member States shall ensure that, when public warning systems regarding imminent or developing major emergencies and disasters are in place, public warnings are transmitted by providers of mobile number-based interpersonal communications services to the end-users concerned. 

110(2).   Notwithstanding paragraph 1, Member States may determine that public warnings be transmitted through publicly available electronic communications services other than those referred to in paragraph 1, and other than broadcasting services, or through a mobile application relying on an internet access service, provided that the effectiveness of the public warning system is equivalent2 in terms of coverage and capacity to reach end-users, including those only temporarily present in the area concerned, taking utmost account of BEREC guidelines. Public warnings shall be easy for end-users to receive. 

By 21 June 2020, and after consulting the authorities in charge of PSAPs, BEREC shall publish guidelines on how to assess whether the effectiveness of public warning systems under this paragraph is equivalent to the effectiveness of those under paragraph 1."

Relevant EECC Recitals.

Recital 293  Article 110(1)

“293  Diverging national law has developed in relation to the transmission by electronic communications services of public warnings regarding imminent or developing major emergencies and disasters. In order to approximate law in that area, this Directive should therefore provide that, when public warning systems are in place, public warnings should be transmitted by providers of mobile number-based interpersonal communication services to all(1) end-users concerned. The end-users concerned should be considered to be those who are located in the geographic areas potentially being affected by imminent or developing major emergencies and disasters during the warning period, as determined by the competent authorities.” 

Note (1)  Under Article 110(1), the PWS should operate across all MNO networks and be accessible to and reach all MTH-users within the geographically defined warning/affected area determined by the relevant “competent authority” (PWS user-authority).

Recital 294  Articles 110(2) and 110(1) 

“294  Where the effective reach of all(2) end-users concerned, independently of their place or Member State of residence, is ensured and fulfils the highest level of data security(3), Member States should be able to provide for the transmission of public warnings by publicly available electronic communications services other than mobile number-based interpersonal communications services and other than transmission services used for broadcasting or by mobile application transmitted via internet access services. In order to inform end-users entering a Member State of the existence of such a public warning system, that Member State should ensure that those end-users receive, automatically by means of SMS(4), without undue delay and free of charge(5), easily understandable information on how to receive public warnings, including by means of mobile terminal equipment not enabled for internet access services. Public warnings other than those relying on mobile number-based interpersonal communications services should be transmitted to end-users in an easily receivable manner(6). Where a public warning system relies on an application, it should not require end-users to log in or register with the authorities or the application provider(7). End- users’ location data should be used in accordance with Directive 2002/58/EC(8). The transmission of public warnings should be free of charge for end-users. In its review of the implementation of this Directive, the Commission could also assess whether it is possible in accordance with Union law, and feasible to set up a single Union-wide public warning system(9) in order to alert the public in the event of an imminent or developing disaster or major state of emergency across different Member States. “

Note (2)    Under Article 110(2), alternative PWSs that do not send warnings via LBSMS or CB should also be accessible to and reach all the people concerned (equally to citizens and international visitors) to the same levels as those PWSs that do comply with Article 110(1).  

Note (3)    The PWS needs to fulfil the highest level of data security.

Note (4)    Where a Member State deploys an alternative PWS under Article 110(2), they should advise international visitors automatically via SMS to their mobile phones how this PWS operates in easily understandable terms.  This could mean that when a visitor first roams on the national networks, the MNO should send her/him automatically an SMS about the PWS in use in the host Member State.  Potentially, this can be included in the “Welcome SMS” that also gives advice on the local rates for calls, data usage, etc.  

Note (5)   Warning messages, however transmitted, should be free of charge to the public.

Note (6)  Messages should be easy for the public to receive.

Note (7)   Where a public warning system relies on a smartphone application (app), it should not require end-users to log in or register with the authorities or the application provider.  Unless the app is native at point of sale on every MTH and SIM card sold in that Member State, it is not clear how the authority or app provider can achieve this.

Note (8)   In accordance with EU Directive 2002/58/EC, authorities can lawfully process both the subscriber’s mobile phone number and location data for public alerting “where this is necessary to allow emergency services to carry out their tasks as effectively as possible” (see below).  

Extract from the EU Directive 2002/58/EC


(36)  Member States may restrict the users' and subscribers' rights to privacy with regard to calling line identification where this is necessary to trace nuisance calls and with regard to calling line identification and location data where this is necessary to allow emergency services to carry out their tasks as effectively as possible.  For these purposes, Member States may adopt specific provisions to entitle providers of electronic communications services to provide access to calling line identification and location data without the prior consent of the users or subscribers concerned.”

The EU General Data Protection Regulations also permit the processing of subscriber metadata for public alerting without the MTH-user’s consent, provided the Member State has amended its national data protection/privacy legislation to explain:

·  The purposes

·  Types of data, and

·  Safeguards.

Note (9)   Feasibility of Europe-wide PWS interoperability.  This could be unrealistic for many Member States, as their Concept of Operations may not envisage a scenario where a mass population message would be transmitted across borders.  Instead, each Member State may want to send its own alert(s) and be accountable for that system and message delivery.  That being said, given national MNO networks can often extend their coverage by several kilometres into a neighbouring Member State (and vice versa), MTHs close to the border in one may well receive an alert from another Member State’s PWS whilst roaming temporarily on their national networks.  Similarly, severe weather, wildfires and floods can cross national borders.  Thus, the PWS in neighbouring Member States will need a degree of compatibility to ensure the alert reaches all the people who are in the warning/affected area.  An EU-wide system is unlikely, but there may be demand for regional compatibility.

Recital 295  Role of BEREC to provide “guidelines” on alternative PWSs in consultation with national authorities in charge of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) / 112 Call-takers.

"295  Member States should be able to determine if proposals for alternative systems, other than through mobile number- based interpersonal communication services, are truly equivalent to such services, taking utmost account of the corresponding BEREC guidelines. Such guidelines should be developed after consulting national authorities in charge of PSAPs in order to ensure that emergency experts have a role in their development and that there is a common understanding between different Member State authorities as to what is needed to ensure full implementation of such public warning systems within the Member States while ensuring that the citizens of the Union are effectively protected while travelling in another Member State.” 

Disclaimer:  The author has endeavoured to provide a fair, accurate and objective analysis of all relevant factors affecting the EECC.  Nonetheless, there may be some minor errors or omissions.  Therefore, national project teams should always confirm accuracy with their legal advisors. 

This Guidance is provided on the explicit understanding that it remains the property of the authors and may not be reproduced, whether in part or in its entirety, or used for commercial gain without prior agreement from Zefonar Advisory.

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Zefonar adds unrivalled value to your project, from design to deployment, through our subject matter expertise in:

  • Scoping: to maximise functionality and operational benefits 

  • Delivery: the most effective all hazards, all agencies capability

  • Risk reduction: avoiding problems and pitfalls that result in sub-optimal systems

  • Future-proofing: sustainability and matching increasing public expectations and demands 

  • Reducing costs: collaboration to accelerate design through to delivery

  • Frameworks: enabling policy and legislation

  • Market engagement: negotiations between government and suppliers

  • Technology selection: evaluation and system assurance

  • Project implementation: working alongside the technology supplier

  • Operational readiness: operating procedures, manuals, training and exercising

  • Community education: media, marketing and communication, and 

  • Post-implementation evaluation: review and continuous improvement. 

We apply the design principles of sequencing projects to follow:

  1. "People" -  determining the community safety outcomes and operational/functional requirements to achieve them; 
  2. "Process" - transforming the user organisations' operational processes and procedures to optimise when and how to use the system, and 
  3. "Technology" - matching the best available, future-proofed technology that delivers the maximum against the operational and statutory requirements that can be delivered ahead of the June 2022 deadline.

We will also coordinate post-implementation user and community reviews to identify lessons for continuous improvement and the trajectory for technical evolution.  We will help you ensure the system is sustainable to meet both the enduring and emerging needs for public safety and future telecommunications capabilities.

3 Workshops: Collaborating for Success

1. Requirements for the Solution Design Specification

In this first facilitated one-day workshop with your multi-agency PWS user-authorities, we'll take you through a structured approach to document the evidence-base, detailing your operational and functional requirements for an effective, multi-purpose PWS platform. 

We will apply a global, lessons-learned approach that's proven already to be hugely successful at accelerating design to implementation at reduced cost.

Based on the workshop outcomes, you will come away with a suite of project-critical documents to support the development of your Business Case:

  • Concept of Operations based on operational best practice for Why (legal duty), When (Objectives), Who (PWS user-authorities), What (scenarios), and How and Where (activation and system location) governing the operational of your PWS.
  • Overriding System Design Principles to create the benchmarks against which to evaluate available technologies, and
  • Operational and Functional Requirements for the user interface(s).

2. Policy, Regulation, Standards, and Funding Options

This second in the series of facilitated workshops with your PWS project team will take you through a proven process that enables you to design the policy, regulatory and standards frameworks needed to underpin the design and operational practice for your PWS.  

We will also help you with identifying a range of funding options to complement and maximise your return on investment in the PWS.  

Again, based on the outcomes from the workshop, you will come away with a completed booklet that sets out your:

  • Governance arrangements
  • Policy Framework on PWS ownership, usage, public access and reach and data privacy, storage, access and use
  • Regulatory Framework  within which the MNOs, PWS supplier, and PWS user-authorities will operate, and
  • Standards Framework for the non-technical aspects governing the operational use of the PWS.


3. Operational Readiness, and Community Education and Preparation

This third facilitated workshop takes you through the critical stage of developing the training for PWS operators, authorising officers, and incident commanders in the effective operational use of the PWS for different types of scenario.

We complement this with identifying the steps needed to educate and prepare the population and international visitors for the introduction and use of the PWS.

We can also advise on the process for post-implementation evaluation to support a lessons-learned approach to continuous improvement for both the PWS and operational best practice (nationally and globally). 

We will demonstrate the techniques used successfully in other countries to create:

  • Standard Operating Procedures and Training Manuals for PWS user-authorities, and
  • Community Education Programmes that include guidance to schools, development of multi-langauge marketing and communication materials, and online tools.