The UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has released its long-awaited statement on the regulation of VoIP. As the most significant regulatory development in the Internet telephony market for over two years, this statement is destined to have a major impact on the future of online communication. ITSPA (the Internet Telephony Service Providers’ Association) has been in discussion with Ofcom throughout the consultation process.
Although they are broadly acceptable, ITSPA is wary that the detail of the new rules may have unfortunate implications for UK businesses and consumers. Whilst ITSPA will work closely with Ofcom to ensure that the regulatory environment continues to run as smoothly as it does now, members have expressed a number of fundamental concerns with the statement.
That Voice over IP will be subject to a stricter regulatory framework than any other technology within the UK telecommunications industry.
These new regulations will be particularly hard to enforce against providers who are based overseas, but market their services within the UK. This will be a significant threat to the UK consumer, who may not be aware of the disparity.
The extra regulatory costs that Ofcom’s rules impose put the UK VoIP industry at a competitive disadvantage against international competitors, and risk hindering the creative development of the industry at an early stage.
ITSPA has highlighted these important issues to Ofcom on a number of occasions. The move from a ‘light-touch’ approach towards a more rigid regulatory framework will have a significant impact on the industry, which ITSPA will monitor closely as it develops.