The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD today announced that, following a public procurement process run by his Department, BT Ireland has been awarded the contract to operate the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) for a period of seven years.
The ECAS answers all calls to the EU Emergency Phone Number 112 or 999 and forwards calls to the relevant Emergency Service. It has answered over 16 million calls since it was launched in July 2010 and answered a total of 1.8 million calls in 2017.
Making the announcement, the Minister said "the service has to be robust and effective given the safety of life aspects associated with the provision of the service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There have been a number of enhancements to the service in recent years including the introduction of an emergency SMS service, the incorporation of Eircodes and the launch last October of Advanced Mobile Location, a standard developed in cooperation with BT. I look forward to further enhancements over the seven year period of the new contract that will further assist the Emergency Services to respond and dispatch emergency personnel to callers in need across Ireland."
Shay Walsh, Managing Director, BT Ireland said "We look forward to building on our successful track record in delivering the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) over the past seven years. Our commitment to providing the Irish public with fast and effective emergency call processing has resulted in ECAS being one of the best amongst its peers in the EU. As part of this new contract, we will be making a multi-million euro technology investment to further modernise this service and ensure we consistently achieve the high quality performance levels expected."
Calls and texts to 112/999 are free of charge to the caller. The ECAS is funded through a Call Handling Fee charged to telecommunications service providers whenever a call is made to the ECAS.
Note for Editors
The legal basis for the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) is set out in the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007. The Act provides for the establishment and operation of the ECAS and enabled the Minister to enter into a contract with a private sector entity to provide the service. The Act also provided for a Call Handling Fee (a per call charge) to be charged to telecoms operators for each emergency call forwarded to the ECAS. Emergency calls and text messages from the public are free of charge.
Following a public tender by the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources BT Communications Ireland Limited was awarded the contract to provide the ECAS service which came into effect from 14 July 2010. The Department commenced the public procurement process for a new operator in 2016 and a new contract has now been signed with BT Communications Ireland Limited to provide the ECAS service for a period of seven years.