Feeds

DQ liberalisation not good for punters

Ofcom should ring the changes

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Former telecoms regulator Oftel made a hash of deregulating the UK's directory enquiries (DQ) service, the National Audit Office has found. Eighteen months after BT's 192 service was scrapped and the market opened up to competition consumers are paying more for a service they're using less.

One senior MP has questioned whether Oftel was right to open up the sector in the first place while another industry figure has called for the return of the old 192 service.

For while punters have the choice of using scores of DQ operators, two companies - BT (118 500) and The Number (118 118) - dominate the sector with 80 per cent market share.

In a critical report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said: "A small minority of residential callers use directory enquiries frequently, but the average residential caller uses the services less than once per month. The average caller is unlikely to be motivated to find the lowest price so the market is not driven by price competition."

What's more, Oftel's successor Ofcom "cannot yet demonstrate that, overall, consumers have benefited from liberalisation", said the report.

It continued: "Most residential consumers are paying more for directory enquiry services while the absence of reliable accuracy data on the previous services means that it is not possible to show whether accuracy has improved."

With such a damning report people have been queuing up to have their say.

Edward Leigh MP, the chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said: "Ignoring the wisdom of the phrase, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', Oftel have made an unpopular and unnecessary change. Just because competition generally brings great benefits does not mean it always works. This is an instance where competition was not needed and is not helpful."

Alastair Crawford, boss of online information outfit 192.com said that the increased competition has led to worse service and increased prices.

"It is clear that consumers want 192 back and Ofcom should give it back." ®

Related stories

DQ prices up, service down
UK DQ use slides
BT in 118 500 price hike
118 services not up to scratch Oftel
Which? slams 118 services

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US
Biting the bullet would let Blighty-based biz flip the bird at AT&T
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.