The so-called ‘Strada delle Terme’ – national highway No 283 – is a major road linking the Tyrrhenian coast near Cosenza to the hinterland, and thus also to the A2 Mediterranean motorway and the Sibari Plain.
However, in certain areas it has no telephone coverage, making it impossible to call 112 (the single European emergency number) and other national emergency numbers, where necessary.
The single European emergency call number, 112, was introduced by Directive 91/396/EEC and has been operational in most EU countries since 1992.
Since 1998, EU legislation has required Member States to ensure that all fixed and mobile phone users are able to call the number 112 (one-one-two) free of charge. Furthermore, since 2003, telecoms operators have to provide caller location information to emergency services, to enable them to quickly trace victims of accidents.
On 29 October 2020, Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Laura Ferrara of the Non-attached Members, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
“Given that there have already been numerous road accidents – some of which, unfortunately, fatal – on the above-mentioned road, particularly in recent years”, MEP Ferrara asked the Commission “is it aware of this situation?” and “what action will it take to urge Italy and telephone operators to ensure that the 112 service is fully operational along this major highway in Calabria?”
On 16 December, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton responded on behalf of the European Commission. He stated that “the Universal Service Directive (USD) requires Member States to ensure that all end-users of publicly available telephone services are able to call the emergency services free of charge, by using the single European emergency call number ‘112’”.
Commissioner Breton reported that “the Commission monitors the implementation of those provisions on 112 in all Member States, including Italy, on a regular basis, notably via a communications Committee (COCOM) questionnaire to Member States” and “the USD requires that undertakings providing end-users with an electronic communications service for originating national calls to a number or numbers in a national telephone-numbering plan provide access to emergency services”.
He further explained that “where the service of origination of national calls is not provided e.g., due to lack of network coverage, no obligation is retained for the relevant undertakings to provide access to emergency services” and that “EC law allows Member States to attach specific obligations on the coverage of mobile networks to the assignment of spectrum resources”.
Finally, Commissioner Breton concluded that “it would be for the National Regulatory Authority (AGCOM) to enforce the existing coverage obligations” and “the Commission’s 5G Action Plan aims for the launch of 5G services in all Member States by the end of 2020 as well as to ensure uninterrupted 5G coverage in urban areas and along main transport paths by 2025, enabling not only the basic service of access to emergency services but also next generation applications for connectivity”.
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/map-atlas-land-geography-3798134/