Harmonised European Short Codes FAQs

As an individual or an organisation I have an idea for a new service that can be offered as a “116 XXX” number. What should I do?
The European Commission is the entity directly responsible to reserve a particular "116 XXX" number for a particular service. Therefore to reserve or suggest new ideas on new services that can be introduced as a Harmonised European Social Service, one should contact the Commission directly on the following e-mail address: infso-116numbers@ec.europa.eu.

An organisation is offering a similar service to the one being offered as a HESC number. It then applies for the related “116 XXX” number and is successfully allocated its rights of use. Can it continue to offer the same service under both nos?
Both numbers can be retained even if an entity is allocated the rights of use for a particular HESC number. This is very important in view of the 'legacy' aspect of numbers that have been used for many years and on which a lot of effort has been put to publicise them. Notwithstanding this fact, the chosen entity shall have the obligation to adequately publicise the particular 116 XXX number.

If an entity is already offering a similar service to the one issued as a HESC number, but under a different number, does this imply that it has to stop offering its services if it does not apply for that particular HESC number?
Each Member State has the obligation to offer the numbers that have been reserved and to make them known in a manner that is accessible to all interested parties. There is no obligation on entities that are providing a similar service to provide the same service under a 116 HESC number.

What is the process governing the implementation of a 116 XXX number?
Once a 116 XXX number is reserved by the European Commission for a specific service, the MCA will inform the ministry responsible for communications. The ministry responsible for communications has the responsibility to identify a lead Ministry, or Ministries for every 116 XXX number reserved by the European Commission. The Lead Ministry/ies' responsibility will be to choose the entity that will be assigned the specific 116 XXX number. Upon being nominated to lead the implementation process for such a number, the Lead Ministry should consult with any governmental entities that in its opinion are capable of offering the HESC service in question. If there are no governmental entities in a position to offer the service as per the conditions set out, the Lead Ministry should issue a public call for expressions of interest by not later than 3 months after it has been nominated as the Lead Ministry for that particular 116 XXX service. The initial call for expression of interest shall be that of a 3 month timeframe since more than one entity could show interest to provide this service. This will give the Lead Ministry the opportunity to allocate the HESC code to the most qualified applicant. If there are no applications once the established timeframe expires the Lead Ministry will consider applications on a case by case basis.

How can I know what kind of services are available under the 116 Harmonised European Services of Social value?
The numbers available can be found in the annex to the European Commission Decision. Another list can also be found on the MCA website, illustrating the numbers available and the current state of play with respect to the take-up of these services.

What are the general conditions under which 116 HESC Services must be provided?
Any entity offering a specific service under the 116 HESC cannot provide other services under that particular HESC number. Moreover, the service must: (i) Provide information, assistance or act as a reporting tool to citizens or any combination thereof: (ii) It must also be open to all citizens without any requirement of prior registration: (iii) There should also be no payment or payment commitment as a prerequisite to use the service: and (iv) The following activities are excluded during a call: advertisement, entertainment, marketing and selling, and using the call for the future selling of commercial services. Besides these, each 116 Harmonised Service of Social Value also carries specific conditions that are listed in the Annex to the Commission Decision. Further conditions may also be imposed by the particular Ministry that will be assigning each specific 116 HESC. 

What are the arrangements governing the 116 numbering range?
The 116 numbering range for Harmonised Services of Social value are free of charge numbers. The content provider (the entity providing that particular service and not the provider of electronic communications networks and services) finances the costs for the calls made by users. Thus, calls towards all 116 HESC numbers are free of charge for both callers from fixed networks and those from mobile networks.

What does HESC stand for?
The acronym HESC stands for Harmonised European Short Code. The 6 digit numbering range beginning with 116 falls under this acronym, as its intention is to offer a Pan-European Social Value Service using the same number throughout Europe.