Ofcom has just announced another consultation on Voice over IP (VoIP) use in the UK as a follow up to their last, which they called New Voice Services: A consultation and interim guidance, and released on 6 September 2004.
We feel this is sufficiently important to instantly flag up, so now only cover the key points. More details will follow.
Ofcom estimate is that there’s around 500,000 VoIP users in the UK, we can only assume that this is both software (Skype, gTalk, etc) and hardware (Vonage, etc). Sounds low to us and at the time of writing, Ofcom hasn’t responded to our request for clarification.
Subjects for discussion/debate –
The obvious of 999 emergency service comes up, but the use of language is pretty interesting. Ofcom say they want to ‘increase the incentive for VoIP services to offer 999 access,’ so potentially no insistence. VoIP providers will love this, as they’ve tripped up in other countries with this.
The scope _does_ appear to cover number portability which is good for the consumer.
As yet unclear, but in our view important. Will there be a move to enforce interoperability between different providers of the service? It would be very pro-consumer, but would put the noses-out-of-joint for quite a few VoIP providers, especially Skype.
Any comments in response have to be with Ofcom by 3.May.06. They’re not going to rush themselves in making their views on the process know in a big rush, they plan to make a statement in August 2006.