“OFCOM is now keen to help insure VoIP users can be confident about the security of the service they use, while having good, speedy access to 999 numbers.” ”In addition, OFCOM’s new approach to VoIP ensures that innovators such as Gradwell will have enough flexibility to drive progress forward – with benefits all round, unhampered by red tape.”
“Additionally, we are very pleased to read and hear about OFCOM’s strong
emphasis in number portability.” At present it is very difficult to transfer numbers from incumbent operators. “This clear statement today – that operators should, in OFCOM’s own words:
“provide number portability as soon as it is reasonably practicable on reasonable terms” – is very welcome indeed,” said Peter.
Peter Gradwell has sponsored the creation of www.voip.org.uk. It is a
community-led VoIP forum aiming to become the UK’s main reference point for
internet telephony. For two years (April 2002-April 2004) he contributed to the work of Nominet, the think-tank for UK domain name policy. As Chairman of Nominet’s policy advisory board he was instrumental in guiding extensive debate. He is a member of the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association (ITSPA), the UK trade body that, among other activities, lobbies OFCOM. Additionally Peter Gradwell is a non-executive director of two firms that focus on hosting, connectivity and collocation: NewNet plc and Loud-n-Clear Limited. His current studies for a PhD at the University of Bath in digital settlement systems comprise an analysis of the use of auctions to manage and procure resources via agent computer networks, known as The Grid.
“Auctions are an excellent way of managing resources on a big computer network,” comments Peter. Definition of VoIP: VoIP is hardware and software that enables people to make telephone calls over the internet. Voice signals are converted to packets of data, and are transmitted on shared/public lines to avoid the charges raised on traditional, public-switched telephone networks. VoIP can be delivered via microphone and computer speakers; IP telephones
or VoIP boxes can also be used, similar to normal telephoning.
From OFCOM’s website (www.ofcom.org.uk) 22 February 2006: Regulation of VoIP Services (Executive summary only) – 1.1
This consultation document sets out Ofcom’s proposed approach to
regulating voice telephony services in the light of new technological developments. In particular, it addresses how different types of VoIP services should be regulated to ensure that consumers’ interests can be
best protected. 1.2 Traditional telephone services have existed for over 100 years.
However, changes are underway that could significantly affect the way voice services are provided in the future. In particular, Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) services change the way voice services are delivered.
These services typically use a broadband connection to provide voice calls using VoIP technology via a PC with handset/headset or a special adaptor connected to a traditional telephone handset. They have the potential to deliver significant consumer benefits through reducing the cost of delivering existing services, enabling new and innovative services and increasing competition.
Consumers benefit most when new technology can be adopted quickly,
when regulatory rules do not prevent new services from being offered, and when competition between old and new services occurs on a level playing field. It is also important that as technology develops, measures to
protect consumers are revised to ensure that they remain fully effective.
In response to the early developments in VoIP services and
discussions with stakeholders, Ofcom published a consultation document entitled New Voice Services: A consultation and interim guidance on 6 September 2004 (the “2004 consultation”) . That document set out Ofcom’s proposals for the regulatory framework for VoIP services to help ensure that consumers’ interests were best met. The proposals reflected both the constraints of relevant European Community directives and also the relative
infancy of the market.
Since September 2004, there have been a number of further developments that require a reassessment of Ofcom’s previous proposals to ensure our objectives in relation to VoIP services are achieved.
So the following document sets out Ofcom’s revised approach for
fostering the development of VoIP services to ensure they best meet consumers’ interests.