Ofcom enforces Ofcom’s rules

 

By Simon Woodhead

Please forgive the cynicism the title conveys but we’re genuinely surprised to see in recent weeks that Ofcom has taken action for violation of its rules. This is very out of character, and quite surprising for those of us who’ve been trying to encourage them to do so in areas such as number portability. Whatever has spurred them into life, we welcome it!

We’re not fans of rules or constraints for their own sake but really struggle when end users are harmed and, as has been our experience to date, the Regulator often ignores the rules that do exist and makes matters worse in justifying doing so. However, that seems to be coming to an end, or at least enjoying a welcome hiatus.

So, what have they done? Well, the most welcome development is that we’re finally seeing those who prevent end users porting, often hiding behind IPX, being taken to task. Last week Ofcom fined Cloud M at least £50,000 regarding the provision of Number Portability. This is not the first General Condition 18 action we’ve seen from them this year but it feels like a landmark one. We still maintain mandating that BT must honour porting requests for IPX hosted numbers would solve 99% of the abuse in a stroke, but this is a very welcome step forward and a warning shot to the many who abuse the present situation.

Today, they’ve also fined Vonage £24,500 for failing to identify that emergency calls were not being routed after technical changes. Whilst we agree with this, it is a warning for some of our customers. We’ve changed our 999 pricing model many times over the years simply to try and get CPs to embrace their obligations. Whilst there is no commercial justification (if ever there was) for not following the rules and putting lives at risk, we’d like to remind all customers again of the need to maintain 999 capability and ensure all numbers have valid address data associated with them. We’ve made this trivially easy through our portal and API, we have processes and penalties to handle calls made without valid data and we occasionally get asked by the Regulator about customers. If you are not routing 999 or uploading data, and our telling you that you must wasn’t motivation enough, Ofcom may be making that an expensive decision. If you need any help, please reach out to us

So, in words I didn’t expect to ever say: Well done Ofcom!