Feeds

Ofcom to create 116 bureaucracies

Proper freephone calls'n'all

Boost IT visibility and business value

UK regulator Ofcom is pondering how to best allocate the new vexation - as opposed to emergency - numbers mandated by the EU, to be standardised across Europe as freephone numbers starting 116.

The UN has already proposed that 116111 be adopted around the world as a number for children in distress to call. To this the EU has added 116000 for reporting missing children, and 116123 for those requiring "emotional support". The problem for Ofcom, and other regulators, is to decide to where such calls should be routed and how to ensure that calling them is free.

The initial part of that might seem trivial - 116000 should go to local police or 999, 116111 to NSPCC's excellent Childline, 116123 to the Samaritans - but that's not thinking like a civil servant.

Ofcom is, instead, proposing that the Cabinet Office "will establish advisory committees to advise us on the allocation of each 116 number". Anyone interested in providing the service then has six weeks to submit their request to the appropriate advisory committee, whereupon the committee will "assess the interested service providers and their services, advise Ofcom on which applicants meet the Service Eligibility Criteria and recommend which should be allocated the 116 number".

Ofcom then asks for some more paperwork, and finally makes a decision.

To be fair to Ofcom, it is trying to allow for future expansion of the 116 range, expecting the EU to allocate more numbers in the future, some of which might not have such an obvious destination. The regulator is also committed to making at least some of the 116 numbers truly free to call.

While many countries already have a freephone tariff, in the UK calls made to "freephone" numbers are not truly free if the call is made from a mobile phone - and Ofcom requires that callers are warned of that before the call is connected. The regulator reckons some vexatious services, including the three initially identified, should be truly free for the caller - though that's going to require some mucking about with the billing systems at the network operators.

The proposal (pdf) is just a consultation at the moment, with comments welcomed until 10 December. Hard not to imagine, though, that there must be a way of allocating three phone numbers without bothering the Cabinet Office or setting up three advisory committees. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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?