Ofcom: Light Touch or no Touch?

Alan Sawyer, Sales and Marketing Director of Reality Telecom is questioning the wisdom of a light touch – and sometimes no touch – by Ofcom when it comes to IP telephony.

“In the current unregulated market, where absolutely anyone could set up to sell IP telephony, it appears that only the operators who have elected to be meet the highest Ofcom standards, or are traditional telecoms networks, can guarantee a proper understanding of voice quality standards and regulations regarding call handling.

IP Telephony is leading to rapid change in the communications market, and there is indeed a risk that excessive regulation will hinder innovation. But whilst the majority of operators are diligent when it comes to voice, how does it serve the market that the current lack of regulation results in some systems being not only of dire quality, but also unable to make 999 calls?

Aside of the ability to dial 999, operators need to consider the use of CLIs with respect to the Data Protection Act, and the control of display numbers to stop fraud. I therefore would urge all channel partners to select their network partner very carefully, with a view to squeezing out the cowboys.

It won’t be too long before the EC begins to look closely at the market. With all of the privacy and data implications of voice calls it makes commercial sense to take the high ground early on. More importantly, no one wants to witness a death resulting from the inability to call an emergency service.

In the case of IP telephony, and particularly hosted IP telephony, this may be an instance where greater market regulation would protect suppliers and customers alike.”

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