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Ofcom sets out stall on VoIP

Deploys new VoIP prefix, then steps back

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Telecoms regulator Ofcom has welcomed the arrival of Voice over IP (VoIP), aka "Voice over Broadband" down at the telecoms regulator, and promised to stay well out of the way as services develop.

Ofcom is also releasing a new code prefix - 056 - for VoIP numbers with no specific location. VoIP providers will also be able to offer customers location-based numbers, starting 01 and 02, so customers will able to sign up without having to change their existing number.

Ofcom chief exec Stephen Carter said: "Broadband voice services are a new and emerging market. Our first task as regulator is to keep out of the way. As the market develops, we will ensure that consumers are appropriately informed and protected.”

Ofcom also announced a public consultation on what service guarantees and consumer protection should govern new providers. Traditional fixed-line telcos must follow regulations like offering almost-guaranteed access to 999 services. The consultation runs until 15 November 2004.

Ofcom said it welcomed the new services and predicted consumers would benefit from better services and lower prices. It also believes that lower barriers to entry compared to traditional telephony means "consumers will benefit from the choice of a wide range of providers".

The full Ofcom press release is here. ®

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