Belgium’s emergency and security services are to stop resorting to their own telecommunications operator, known as “Astrid”, and switch to traditional GSM services. The change is reported in L’Echo and De Tijd on Wednesday.
Astrid, for which the state is the sole shareholder, manages the communication services for more than 70,000 collaborators in 750 organisations. These include police zones, all federal police services, all fire departments, Civil Protection (providing specialised services, such as search and rescue). The Astrid service is also used by Customs, the Defence services, state security, paramedics, emergency call-centres for 100 and 112, and service providers within local authorities, public transport, the Red Cross, security firms and others.
For 20 years now these services have been using Astrid. However, nowadays such services exchange more visual materials, sometimes sent by citizens. Hence the reason why they must now switch to a broadband network.
The government could have invested in a new network, but it opted for a collaboration with telecoms operators, which will be obliged to anticipate the use of capacities adapted to the security services. The collaboration will unroll, within the framework of a new invitation to tender for frequency bands with telecoms operators, at the end of next year.