Feeds

Old and new square up in VoIP debate

Light touch regulation vs level playing field

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The old and new of the telecoms industry are preparing to make their case as Ofcom takes another look at the rules governing internet telephony in the UK.

Yesterday, the regulator published a consultation document in which it proposed a number of suggestions to help protect consumers. While the regulator acknowledges that VoIP has the potential to benefit punters by reducing costs, increasing competition and enabling new and innovative services, it wants to ensure that this is done fairly.

And while Ofcom does not want to impose regulations that might stifle new services, it believes that competition between traditional and internet-based voice services should occur on a level playing field.

Which is why it is consulting the industry on a range of issues such as the availability and reliability of 999 calls on VoIP networks, number portability when switching providers, and what information must be offered to punters so that they understand the scope of broadband telephony services.

And if such regulations are introduced, Ofcom then needs to set up some monitoring and reporting process to ensure that VoIP operators are complying with the regulations.

ITSPA - the Internet Telephony Services Providers Association which represents VoIP operators - says it is "cautiously optimistic about Ofcom's VoIP approach" but has warned that "excessive regulation could stifle the sector and ultimately limit consumers' power of choice". The VoIP trade group (members include Vonage, GossipTel and Wanadoo) reckons that the development of internet telephony has flourished in the UK, in part, thanks to the regulatory "light touch" adopted by the regulator since September 2004.

But as ITSPA chair Eli Katz says, the industry is "concerned that proposals to regulate all consumer information requirements could reverse this trend and shrink the range of innovative services currently on offer to consumers".

"The VoIP sector would seem to be an ideal opportunity for Ofcom to deliver on one of its key principles of 'least intrusive regulatory mechanisms', especially as the ITSPA Code of Practice mandates many of these same issues on a self-regulatory basis," said Katz

But ITSPA is facing opposition from the UK Competitive Telecommunications Association (UKCTA), which supports the development of new voice services but only if they face the same regulatory burdens as traditional telcos. UKCTA (members include C&W, Colt and Thus) is also chuffed that Ofcom has adopted an approach of "technological neutrality" to the consultation - in other words, that regulation should be based upon the services provided to end users, and not on the technology used to deliver those services.

"There needs to be a clear regulatory framework governing VOIP services - this is essential for effective competition in the UK telecoms marketplace, in turn ensuring that consumers have choice," said UKCTA in a statement. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?