The eCall function in cars: The tech behind safer European roads

Tags: IoT
A picture of Mubarak Ajia
Written by
Mubarak Ajia

eCall (emergency call) is one of the groundbreaking connected car technologies revolutionizing the mobility industry. eCall's concept was actually initiated in the early 2000s, and the European Commission has since been pushing its adoption across the European Union.

eCall is based on the EU emergency call number (112), which is automatically or manually initiated from a light vehicle after a serious accident. The emergency call is accompanied by generating a minimum set of emergency-related data (MSD), including the exact location of the vehicle, the time of the accident, and the direction of travel, which are transferred to the public safety answering point (PSAP). This process is known as an eCall transaction.

The institution of eCall by the European Union was prompted by the effort to reduce fatalities in the event of accidents in passenger and light vehicles. A European Commission memo noted that 112 eCall can speed up emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside. It can also save up to 2,500 lives annually and reduce the severity of road injuries.

All passenger cars and light vehicles in the EU that were manufactured after 31 March 2018 are mandated to have an eCall system installed in accordance with the EU regulations.

This article looks into the eCall system and its requirements.

How it works

When a serious accident occurs, the eCall sensor is triggered, which automatically dials 112. The exact location, time, and direction of travel for first responders are automatically transmitted to the nearest emergency call center, using both a telephone and data link. eCall can also be manually activated by pushing the assigned button in the vehicle.

The eCall activation takes place only in the event of a serious accident, and information leaves the car only during this period. Otherwise, it is a dormant system. The emergency data transmitted is the absolutely necessary Minimum Set of Data (MSD). Thus, the data and privacy of the car passenger remain protected. A warning message indicating a system failure is triggered in case the eCall system fails.

CS eCall Vs NGEN eCall

eCall can be divided into 2 types: the CS (Circuit Switch) eCall and the NG (Next Generation) eCall. Recently, there has been a push for the implementation of NG eCall in the market, but how does it differ from the legacy CS eCall?

eCall standardization began in around 2004, with the GSM world utilizing traditional CS networks and CS 112 calls.

CS eCall uses the older traditional telephone network to establish a call between the vehicle and the emergency call center. CS eCall is considered due for replacement with the NG eCall, which is more advantageous and future-proof. The global transition to 4G/5G has been instrumental in the shift from CS eCall to NG eCall.

NG eCall uses a modern cellular network, similar to one used on smartphones. NG eCall is generally more advanced than CS eCall, and its benefits over CS eCall include the transmission of larger data to the emergency services, quicker call establishment, and support for 5G. NG eCall also provides an extension to IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) eCall, which uses IP-based communication, enabling the transfer of different types of communication over a single IP-based network, such as data, voice (including VoLTE), and video.

The GSMA recommends rolling out NG eCall early in alignment with the 5G rollout plans of Mobile (Virtual) Network Operators (MVNOs), as 4G and 5G technologies will provide higher network availability and better service quality. Additionally, 2G communication is being phased out in many countries across the globe, and this is worth consideration by all stakeholders in their plans. According to GSMA, 2G and 3G connections will be marginalized in Europe, with just 1% of mobile connections happening via 2G and 8% through 3G.


The EU regulations on eCall are based on the pan-European 112 emergency number. The standards ensure that eCall systems can communicate with other systems and networks to ensure interoperability. Vehicle manufacturers are necessitated to equip newly manufactured vehicles with compliant eCall systems, while M(V)NOs ensure that an eCall transaction can be executed.

The Regulation (EU) 2015/758, which is mostly based on the GSM/UMTS circuit-switched network and applies to passenger cars (category M1) and commercial vehicles (category N1), was published on 29 April 2015 about the type-approval requirements for the deployment of the 112-based eCall in-vehicle system. This regulation laid out the basic technical requirements for the manufacturers.

The core requirements of an eCall system include:

  • the ability to automatically activate in the event of a severe accident through a sensor
  • the ability to determine a vehicle's location using GPS
  • the support of two-way communication between the vehicle and the emergency call center
  • the ability to transmit vehicle identification numbers to the emergency center
  • interoperability with the local emergency centers within Europe.

Vehicle manufacturers must ensure that the receivers in the 112-based eCall in-vehicle systems are compatible with the positioning services provided by the Galileo and the EGNOS systems, with an option to extend compatibility to other satellite navigation systems. Manufacturers must also design the control to prevent mishandling but ensure that the eCall can be triggered manually.

Third-party service (TPS) eCall system

The main stakeholders associated with establishing eCall systems in the EU are the regulators, vehicle manufacturers, and M(V)NOs. Vehicle manufacturers ensure the implementation of correct hardware and technical setup. And M(V)NOs deal with the communication aspect of the eCall system.

While eCall is a free service as a standard, it is allowed to use a nationally recognized third-party service (TPS) eCall system, which may incur additional costs due to the extra services provided. M(V)NOs may provide NG eCall to vehicle manufacturers, allowing more flexibility through value-added services. TPS providers are permitted to provide different variants of eCall, although they must maintain the vehicle user's right to revert to the 112-based setup.

If you are considering setting up a TPS eCall system, 1oT can support you as the right connectivity partner by linking you with the best M(V)NO for the service. Please reach out to for more information.