Issue 11 April 2011
- We welcome Ofcom’s attempt to transpose the relevant revised EU Framework Directives1 into UK regulation within such challenging timescales. It is also pleasing to note that Ofcom proposes further debate with industry and separate, future consultations for those policy issues that need greater analysis and consideration. We fully support Ofcom’s objectives that changes should be proportionate, transparent, objectively justifiable and not unduly discriminatory.
- Within the proposed amendments, we believe that some areas need further clarification if Communications Providers are to ensure compliance with the revised regulations. The definitions applied for different users of communications services along with the networks and services themselves all need to be reviewed to ensure they are fit for the purpose that Ofcom intends. A Public Electronic Communications Network (PECN) has wider implications for compliance than the Public Telephone Network that it replaces and it is not the intention of the underlying Framework Directives for transposition to extend regulation to products and services outside the scope of the Universal Service Directive 2009 (USD).
- This need for clarity is particularly critical where PECN is referenced in General Condition 3 regarding network resilience, as once coupled to the removal of “at a fixed location” the amendment has the potential to greatly extend those services to which the regulation applies. We don’t believe that this is Ofcom’s intention, but if it is, we think the amendment needs urgent review.
- We appreciate Ofcom’s continuing commitment to ensuring the safety of people calling the emergency services and the recognition that this can be maximised with accurate location data. However, we believe that the definitions proposed under General Condition 4 for identifying the location of mobile users need to be revisited and we would welcome the opportunity to add our own expertise as an emergency Call Handling Agent to ensure these accurately reflect what is technically feasible.
- The European Commission is to be congratulated in recognising that some small businesses may benefit from the additional contract measures now in place for consumers. However, Ofcom’s amendments, whilst generally reflective of the letter of the underlying legislation, extend these rights to all business customers including those businesses and corporations enjoying non-standard terms. We believe that Ofcom must revisit the recitals within the USD and make whatever amendments are necessary to General Condition 9 to ensure that those choosing non-standard contracts are not unnecessarily brought into the scope of General Condition 9.
- We also believe that industry and Ofcom must work together to agree criteria and parameters for the scheme proposed to compensate customers subject to delay or abuse when porting their telephone number. The proposed date of 25th May 2011 for CPs for this scheme to be operational is unworkable given the complexity of the porting process and ongoing industry work on customer migrations. We would welcome the opportunity to begin this work at Ofcom and industry’s earliest convenience.
- Alone amongst the Member States, a functionally separated incumbent helps the UK communications sector to flourish, making it the most competitive in Europe. This unique environment must also be taken into account when imposing regulation at a retail level to ensure an even-handed approach and a level playing field for the delivery of services to endusers.
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