The regulations in Belgium caters and covers all of the Mobile Payment types, that include Premium SMS Billing, Standard Rate Services and Short Codes.
GSM Operators Forum
The present “GOF Guidelines for SMS/MMS/LBS services“ applies to any Service Premium or Bulk operating in Belgium. It applies to any person offering a Premium or Bulk Service in Belgium; in whatever country they are established. The present “GOF Guidelines for SMS/MMS/LBS services“ is a part of the contract concluded between the Operator and the Service Provider. It includes mandatory obligations but also recommendations for the marketing of any Premium or Bulk Service. GOF may alter the present “GOF Guidelines for SMS/MMS/LBS services“ at any time, especially in order to adapt it to market development, services, technology, applicable legislation, etc. GSM Operators' Forum (GOF) are responsible for governing premium and standard rate short codes in the Belgium, they represent the three Belgian mobile operators.
BASE is a telephony services and broadband internet brand operated by KPN Group Belgium/KPN in Belgium and Germany. KPN Group Belgium is the third largest of Belgium's three mobile telecommunications operators. It competes with Proximus, owned by Belgian state owned telco Belgacom, and Mobistar, a subsidiary of France Telecom. It is from October 2009 onwards also the name for its fixed line and broadband ADSL operations formerly marketed under brand name Tele2.
Mobistar is the second largest of Belgium's three mobile telecommunications operators. It competes with Proximus, owned by Belgian state owned telco Belgacom and Base, a subsidiary of Dutch KPN. It was founded in 1996 as a joint-venture between Telinfo and France Telecom, building a GSM 900 network and then founding a complementary DCS 1800 network. Initially Mobistar added to its network coverage by signing contracts with providers such as Motorola & Talkline, Cellway, a subsidiary of Martin Dawes Telecommunications and Debitel Belgium, the latter two which it would take over respectively in 1997 and 2000.
Mobistar claims to have been the first GPRS operator in Belgium. In May 2007 Mobistar bought 90% of the shares of VOXmobile, a mobile phone company of Luxembourg.
Proximus, also known as Belgacom Mobile, is the largest of Belgium's three mobile telecommunications operators. It competes with Mobistar, owned by France Telecom, and Base, a subsidiary of Dutch KPN. Proximus was founded in 1994 as a joint-venture between Belgacom, 75 %, and Airtouch, 25 %, respectively. Airtouch was later merged with Vodafone. In 2006, Belgacom bought the remaining Vodafone shares. Starting January 1994, Proximus took over the operator responsibility of the old MOB2 analogue network, as well as the new second generation GSM network, originally only in the GSM 900 range. The obsolete MOB2 network was retired in 1999. When necessary, Proximus can also use GSM 1800 to complement its network. It was originally a de facto monopoly, but after deregulation Mobistar, a second GSM 900 operator soon joined the game in 1998, followed by BASE, then known as KPN-Orange in 1999. Proximus has just a little over 45 % of the market now considered as saturated.
In Belgium, the mobile market experienced a strong second quarter in terms of new subscriptions to cellular services which reached 259,000, a record level since 2008-end. As a result, the country’s total mobile phone users stood at 12.2 million up 2.2% sequentially to bring the penetration ration rate to more than 113% of the population.
Population (2009): 10,666,866.
Annual population growth rate (2009): 0.094%.
Density: 861 per sq. mi. Linguistic regions - (Dutch-speaking) Flanders 57.9%; (French-speaking) Wallonia 31.7%; (legally bilingual) Brussels Capital Region 9.7%; German-speaking 0.7%.
For a detailed summary of the communications market in Belgium please see http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/library/communications_reports/annualreports/15th/index_en.htm for more information.
As part of the application process for a short code, you will need to complete a txtNation Customer Care Form (CCF). The form should be submitted in English, and any promotions or message flow declarations can be in Flanders, Dutch and/or French.
See section B.1 of the Regulations Document:
Notification regarding use of games, contests or quizzes; specifically aimed at minors for paid services; logos, ringtones, games or other products or services for personalising a mobile phone; chat services:
If, between the End User phone number and the SMS or MMS Short Code, through which the service is offered, communications take place for more than 25 Euro* a month, the End User will be notified by means of a free SMS or MMS sent by the Service Provider. If, within a month, a multiple of 25* Euro has been reached, a free message will be sent stating the amount reached as a multiple of 25 Euro*.
* Amount will be lowered to 10 euro on 1st of December 2011, upon entry into force of the related articles in the Ethical Code for Telecommunications.
The message must contain clear, unambiguous and transparent information about the spent amount and at least contain the following elements: free message, exceeded amount, related Short Code and name of the Service Provider. This information may not be placed between brackets.
Example of a notification message NL: “Informatief gratis bericht van DDDD: u heeft deze maand reeds XX€...gespendeerd voor de dienst van Short Code NNNN”.
Example of a notification message UK: “Informative free message from DDDD: you have already spent XX€ this month for the service of Short Code NNNN”.
Example of a notification message FR “Message informatif gratuit de DDDD: vous avez déjà dépensé pour XX€ ce mois-ci pour le service NNNN” iv.
XX euro = 25 Euro* or multiple: example 50 Euro*, 125 Euro*; NNNN = Short Code DDDD = name of Service Provider.
STOP sent to the Short Code used to send this notification message will not be considered as an opt-out for the service linked to the Short Code NNNN, except if the notification Short Code is equal to NNNN.
Opt-out for notification messages is not allowed.
See section B.1.2 of the Regulations Document:
Obligatory mention of the price of every Premium or Bulk SMS or MMS service:
For all communication, the Service Provider must strictly follow the graphical charter described in Section D of the regulation document.
The graphical charter (Section D) and the first bullet point does not apply to the Service Provider who does not use graphical elements or various fonts and letter sizes in text in their communication with the End User.
The standard label must be used for prices. The prices must be clear and legible. In doing so the Service Provider must respect the following rules:
- The font size used to communicate the prices must be equal or at least one third of the font used for the Short Code, with a minimum of 10 pt.
- The Short Code and price must always be mentioned together.
- The font size of the price must be equal or bigger than one third of the font size used for the Short Code, with a minimum of 10 pt. If 10 pt is technically not feasible, then the rate has to be mentioned in at least the same font as the Short Code.
- The rate should at all time be legible, clear and unambiguous.
- Alphanumeric signs used must be such that the need for careful scrutiny in order to understand the written texts is not necessary.
- Indicating a price by an asterisk or by any other crossed reference is not allowed.
- All price indication must always be mentioned horizontally.
- Price indications should not be placed at the bottom of the page or vertically on the sides.
- The prices and services must be mentioned at every price change of an individual SMS/MMS and at any price change of a service.
See section B.1.3 through to section B.1.4 of the Regulations Document:
Specific rules for Alarm services:
Apart from the regulations specified by other articles in the present ‘GOF guidelines for SMS/MMS services’, the End User must be clearly informed of the type of event that will trigger the delivery of the service and the maximum cost of the service over the applicable period. For subscription to Alert Services, the double opt-in procedure is applicable.
Specific rules for Subscription and Alarm Services:
Apart from the regulations specified by other articles in the present ‘GOF guidelines for SMS/MMS services’, any communication from the Service Provider relating to the Subscription and Alarm Service must explicitly indicate:
The price mentioned shall be per engagement period of the subscription (i.e. 2 Euro/month) (see the graphical charter in Section D).
The content of the message appearing on the web page, insisting that the End User activates the Subscription or Alarm Service ('opt-in') must be equal to the standard confirmation message received via SMS by the End User. This text must be placed next to the Short Code on the Web page inviting the End User to send the keyword for the activation of the subscription. The size of this text must be equal to the size of the Short Code, and cannot contain other information related to the service than:
- Om je te abonneren op dienst SSSS aan XX EURO/PPP, stuur KKK naar NNNN.
- Pour t’abonner au service SSSS à XX EURO/PPP , envoie KKK au NNNN.
- To subscribe for service SSSS at XX EURO/PPP , send KKK to NNNN.
See section B.2.1 of the Regulations Document:
Activating a Premium or Bulk Service:
The Service Provider may only activate a Premium or Bulk Service for the End User who specifically requested it by having sent a Premium SMS or a Bulk SMS exclusively from the phone of the End User, which allows the Service Provider to register the activation of the service. This procedure is explained in the advertising related to this service. Activation for a Premium or Bulk Service must be explicit (the approval of the End User must be explicitly mentioned) and will be used exclusively for the specific service for which the clear consent of the End User was mentioned.
See section B.2.2 of the Regulations Document:
End User registration cancellation for all Premium or Bulk Services:
The Service Provider must accurately explain how to cancel a registration in any advertising related to a Premium or Bulk Service. The Service Provider has the obligation to cancel the Premium or Bulk Service immediately for any End User requesting cancellation of the registration.
- Sending STOP to a Short Code will in all cases cancel the registration to all services associated to this Short Code.
- Sending STOP Keyword to a Short Code will cancel immediately the registration to services associated to this Short Code and the keyword.
- Service Providers agree that the End User request will be handled immediately. Therefore, misspelling such as “ STOPP”, “sToP”, “TSOP”, wrong keywords, etc., will be interpreted as “STOP”.
When the cancellation of a Premium or Bulk Service is registered, the Operators recommend the Service Provider send an SMS/MMS-MT confirming the cancellation. The price of this SMS/MMS-MT must always be free of charge for the End User. In case a Premium or Bulk Service is delivered via MMS-MT, the command “STOP” sent to the same Short Code via SMS-MO will be recognised as a valid cancellation request of the MMS-MT service.
Message Flow Requirements
Note GOF implemented a new set of "GOF guidelines for SMS/MMS services", enforceable July 2011. Most important change: At the moment users must be notified when spending reaches €10 a month, this is reduced to €10 a month from 1st December 2011.
See section B.1.4.1 of the Regulations Document:
Double 'opt-in' procedure:
Registration to a Subscription Service will have to comply with a ‘double opt-in’ procedure (or confirmation of the subscription). This means that the End User will have to expressly confirm the subscription. The procedure for double opt-in consists of the following:
- First opt-in via SMS, MMS, WEB, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), WAP, IdTV or signed form.
- A one-off standard confirmation request by SMS/MMS sent to the End User. This text must also appear on the web page:
- Om je te abonneren op dienst SSSS aan XX EURO/PPP, stuur KKK naar NNNN (de kost van dit bericht is RR EURO).
- Pour t’abonner au service SSSS à XX EURO/PPP, envoie KKK au NNNN (le coût de ce message est RR EURO).
- To subscribe for service SSSS at XX EURO/PPP, send KKK to NNNN (the cost of this message is RR EURO).
- SSSS indicates the service to which the End User wants to subscribe.
- XX indicates the rate per period.
- PPP is the period for which the XX amount is requested. Rate and period have to be described in full without abbreviations:
- Allowed style: 12 EURO/week, 5 EURO/month;
- All other descriptions are not allowed.
- KKK is the keyword that has to be send back by the End User via SMS (hereafter Keyword):
- The only allowed Keywords are “GO”, “OK” or “Start”;
- If Keyword is “OK”, only “OK” will be considered as a valid confirmation.
- The NNNN Short Code must be situated in the 9xxx range.
- RR indicates the rate of the confirmation SMS.
- This SMS/MMS-MT must be free of charge for the End User.
- Opt-in confirmation by the End User is required via SMS by sending the Keyword (no other word will be considered as valid opt-in) to the mentioned Short Code. Unless clearly and explicitly communicated in the advertisement, the subscription costs are part of the first subscription period. When requested, the proof of valid opt-in confirmation must be provided by the Service provider to the Operator within 5 business days.
- Confirmation of the subscription. Upon registration to a Subscription Service or Alarm Service, the Service Provider will send to the End-user an SMS/MMS-MT mentioning clearly:
- The confirmation of the registration to the Premium or Bulk service.
- The total cost of the service; (see Step 2 for standard format).
- The cancellation procedure to the service.
- The help desk coordinates of the Service Provider.
This SMS/MMS-MT will be free of charge for the End User.
See section B.1.5 of the Regulations Document:
Specific regulations for WAP push messages:
WAP push messages must be free of charge for the End User; the only way to bill for the service is through a dedicated, visible SMS/MMS. The SMS/MMS message used for the billing of the WAP push service must clearly mention the following elements in this order:
- That a WAP push mechanism is used to deliver the service.
- The URL to the WAP site.
- The name of the Service Provider.
- The coordinates of the help desk.
- The rates for chat services are determined by the price of the SMS or MMS-MO.
- SMS/MMS-MT are free of charge for the End User. This price limitation does not apply to services for which the End User receives a maximum of one SMS or MMS-MT per SMS or MMS-MO sent.
- All chat services have to start with an SMS/MMS-MO.
- The SMS/MMS-MT that are not answers to a user message (such as registration configuration, notification, how-to, etc.) are free of charge for the End User.
Sending an SMS and MMS from a website:
- The SMS and MMS-MT sent from a website should explicitly mention the details of the website from which the SMS or MMS has been sent.
- The Service Provider must ensure that the laws applicable for the storage and archiving of any SMS/MMS sent via the SMS/MMS Service on the Internet offered by the Service Provider, are respected.
- In order to avoid any illicit use of anonymous SMS/MMS messages, the SMS/MMS Provider must implement a blocking mechanism enabling any End User to stop anonymous SMS/MMS.
This article expires on 1st of December 2011 when Section 9 of the Ethical Code for messages sent to them free of charge from the SMS/MMS Service via the Internet offered by the Service Provider.
General pictogram layout:
The Short Code and price will be communicated with a pictogram using a unique graphical layout described here below. The general layout will have the following form described in Fig. 1. Proportions in height and length are fixed and may not be changed. The minimum length is 20 mm.
The font will be FRUTIGER or ARIAL and will be the same for the Short Code and the price indication.
The font size of the price will not be less than 1/3 of the font size of the Short Code and will not be lower than 10 pt.
Price indication will be one of the following, depending on the service offered:
- 0,00 € /SMS
- 0,00 €/MMS
- 0,00 €/logo
- 0,00 €/download
- 0,00 €/participation
- 0,00 €/SMS sent/received
- 0,00 €/MMS sent/received
Specific for Subscription Service
- 0,00 EURO/day
- 0,00 EURO/week
- 0,00 EURO/month
- For analogue Teletext: a minimum of 1 line of information needs to be added in a colour code that is visible and legible by the TV viewer.
- For audio services (radio commercial, TV and Interactive Voice Response), the complete price (either price per participation or price per subscription period MO/MT) needs to be mentioned.
See section D.2 of the Regulations Document.
Choice of Colours:
|| Type 1
|| Type 2
|| Type 3
The Colour Code is as follows (R/G/B)
Yellow: PMS yellow
Blue: PMS 2935
We operate Message Terminated (MT), Mobile Originating (MO) and Double Charge (DC) billing on dedicated lines in Belgium. See forum entry "What are the SMS billing types available?" for more information on these billing types.
See section C.2 of the Regulations Document.
Chat considering Minors:
Without prejudice to the obligation to store data, all messages that are in contradiction with the laws in force and/or with the rules of the Service Provider must be isolated by the Service Provider. Moderating of a chat service by the Service Provider can be done via technical means or manually by a server or person.
Service Providers must inform the End Users if a chat service is being moderated.
See section C.3 of the Regulations Document.
Logos & Ringtones:
In any advertising, the Service Provider will include or refer to a list of mobile phones that can download and configure the logos and/or ringtones offered and will inform the End User about the communication carrier needed to receive the service (GPRS, WAP, UMTS, etc.).
Short Code and Keyword Structure
For our dedicated codes in Belgium, we operate on a four digit short code for each carrier. The full short code is provided on application. Adult content is allowed in Belgium with specified short codes only, starting 7xxx.
Most codes in Belgium are Mobile Terminated (MT) billed, with an MT required from the user to bill them (SMS-O or WO-RAR). You can also apply for MO billed codes. In addition, you can also get Double Charging codes (DC) where the user is billed for both the MO and the MT message, obviously MO billed codes require a MT from the user to transact.
The current rate of tax in Belgium is available via Wikipedia. The out payments on our rate cards are exclusive of VAT, so if you are VAT registered you can claim a higher outpayment than is shown.
Dedicated codes are available with a 6 - 8 week lead time depending on carrier availability, the carriers approve based on the price point and service type. You can read more about Short Code Coverage, SMS Billing Services and Mobile Payments in Belgium via the txtNation Gateway.
Belgium has the following Mobile Payment options available, all of which fall under these regulations.
- Premium SMS (P-SMS) including Short Code services
Additional options for Mobile Payments and Messaging in Belgium include: