France leading the way in nuisance call control

Over the Christmas break French fixed and mobile telephone operators quietly introduced surcharges on calls originating outside the EU. They are basing these on the Caller ID presented and not on the origin of the operator passing the actual call to them. We do not know the basis for the change but suspect it is to combat Nuisance Calls coming into France from (predominantly) North African call centres.

Nuisance Calls are a major issue and we’ve given our suggestions to official consultations on the matter in this country. We’ve also tried to encourage customers as to the importance of passing valid Caller ID. Unfortunately, not all operators take such an approach and consumers continue to be harassed by unwanted calls that fall outside domestic controls and procedures. Sadly, we fear that OFCOM’s mandates in the Narrowband Review will only serve to compound the problem due to reduced costs for the perpetrators and reduced revenue for the receiving operator that has to deal with the consequences.

On that basis we find ourselves applauding the French. The industry has taken a positive step to deal with the problem – if you place calls to France from outside the jurisdiction of the EU or within the EU but with invalid CLI, they’ll cost more. Simple and effective.

We hope they follow up (as we proposed over here) and ensure that investigations into Nuisance Calls are directed to the calling operator and not the one whose CLI was presented. The surcharges could lead to an increase in CLI spoofing, implicating and inconveniencing innocent third parties.

We’re not yet passing on the surcharges to our customers but do like the basic idea. Those sending good quality legitimate traffic get one rate, those sending rubbish and causing disruption get another. At this stage we would again remind customers to be mindful of the Nuisance Call guidelines and ensure that all calls have valid Caller ID. We’d be surprised if other countries did not adopt a similar approach in the future.