UK TELECOMS TROUBLE SORTER Ofcom is making an effort to protect consumers against bad practices at internet and mobile service providers.
The regulator says that it is acting now to protect people from the bad side of modern communications, which includes nuisance and spam calls, bad billing, heavy debt collection, and the exploitation of the vulnerable. The changes come into force on 1 October 2018, so ISPs have plenty of time to get their act in order.
There are few changes for the ISPs to deal with, and they start with Ofcom banning for caller display systems. The regulator reckons that this will help people screen out nuisance calls, or calls from work we reckon. Providers will also have to block invalid and non-dialable numbers because they are what scammers use.
In general, it feels like Ofcom just wants ISPs to be a bit nicer, perhaps a bit more human. For example, disabled people should expect to get preferential treatment when the rules come in and get quick access to engineers in case of problems.
"These measures previously applied only to disabled people's landline and mobile services, and will now be extended to broadband," explained Ofcom. Facilitating this is the requirement for providers to have systems in place to identify the vulnerable, "such as people with learning or communication difficulties or those suffering physical or mental illness or bereavement - to ensure they are treated fairly and appropriately".
Try arguing against that in public, we would not like to. It's not the end of it either, billing accuracy must also be improved for broadband services, and broadband and mobile providers must be clear about how they deal with debt collection.
None of this makes mobile or broadband service providers sound like very nice companies, but Ofcom hasn't singled anyone out as being a particularly bad egg. It has been known to chuck a few large fines around in its time, and it's possible that these new rules will give it more opportunity to make it rain in its direction. µ
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