eCall, utilised in vehicles throughout the European Union (EU), automatically initiates a free emergency call to the public safety answering point (PSAP) infrastructure or a third-party service (TPS) eCall system when a vehicle is involved in a serious road accident. This can also be triggered manually by pressing a button.

eCall is a particularly valuable system as it reduces the time it takes for the police, fire service, or ambulance to respond and arrive at the exact location of the incident.

In Europe, eCall functionality has been mandatory in all new passenger car models since April 2018. This regulation ensures widespread adoption of the technology, maximising its benefits for public safety.

On 6 February 2024, the European Commission issued new specifications regarding the interoperability of eCalls across the EU.

The necessity to amend the EU regulatory framework

The need to amend the EU regulatory framework arises from the necessity to efficiently operate the eCall system.

The Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 305/2013 has outlined specifications for upgrading the PSAP infrastructure to ensure compatibility, interoperability, and continuity of the harmonised EU-wide eCall service.

Initially, the specifications for communication and data transmission between vehicles and PSAPs were based on the single European emergency number 112, utilising circuit-switched (2G/3G) electronic communications networks. However, with mobile network operators planning to phase out 2G/3G networks between 2025 and 2030 in all Member States, the adaptation of the eCall legal framework to new electronic communications technologies became imperative. The recently published Amended Delegated Regulation ensures the transition of the eCall system from circuit-switched (2G/3G) to packet-switched (4G/5G) communications, introducing new specifications.

Two main focuses

The main focus areas of the amendment include equipping PSAPs with additional technical specifications for packet-switched communications to support the reception and handling of eCalls, particularly emphasising accurate and reliable information on the locations and direction of the vehicle before the incident.

Moreover, the revision aligns these specifications with relevant EU legislation enacted after the adoption of Delegated Regulation (EU) No 305/2013, such as the General Data Protection Regulation and the European Electronic Communications Code, and updates the version of existing eCall specifications.

Transitional period

The Amended Delegated Regulation applies directly to Member States, requiring no transposition. It is immediately applicable to new infrastructures deployed after its entry into force. For existing infrastructures, technical amendments must be completed by 1 January 2026.

This Amended Delegated Regulation has an impact on the whole ecosystem of industry players involved in the development, implementation, and support of eCall systems, such as automobile manufacturers, telecommunications service/network providers, integration partners, emergency services, regulatory bodies, PSAPs and relay centres, insurance companies, and testing and certification bodies.

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