Feeds

VoIP services must offer 999, says Ofcom

Calls for regulatory framework

Boost IT visibility and business value

Ofcom today proposed that all VoIP phone services allowing users to make calls to ordinary phone numbers must also offer access to make 999 emergency calls.

In research carried out by the UK communications regulator, VoIP users were found to be very confused by what phone numbers they would be able to access in the event of an emergency.

Ofcom, which has been consulting on its approach to regulating the VoIP industry since February 2006, said 78 per cent of people had no idea they were unable to access 999.

Although some VoIP phone service providers, such as BT and Vonage, already include the option for their users to access the emergency number, other providers opt out of offering it.

It said only 64 per cent of households were currently able to gain access to 999 via VoIP phone services.

Concerns have been expressed by the communications watchdog as people increasingly adopt VoIP to make phone calls they would have traditionally made through landlines.

It said a lack of awareness about some service providers' decision to exclude the 999 number could leave users vulnerable in an emergency.

Ofcom estimated that the cost of VoIP providers allowing users to call 999 would be around 90 pence per household per year.

Of course, the big headache for the regulator is that, unlike other telcom services, VoIP is not bound by national borders.

Ofcom said it is working closely with its European equivalents to put a regulatory framework in place.

Meanwhile, the communications watchdog announced today that it has appointed a new chief operating officer.

Jill Ainscough joins Ofcom to fill the slot left vacant by Ed Richards, who became chief executive in 2006.

She was previously managing director at broadband firm Easynet and takes up the COO post on 7 August. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?