With more and more VoIP services launching every week, how do UK consumers know which services to trust? Is there someone they
can complain to if they are not happy? Can they make 999 calls from their VoIP phone? To help improve consumer information and
awareness and to give consumers confidence that they are getting a service from a reputable provider with proper consumer
protection in place, ITSPA, the Internet Telephony Services Providers’ Association, has launched version 1.0 of its consumer Code of
Practice (CoP). ITSPA Members who adhere to the Code of Practice will have the right to display the ITSPA logo on their website.
ITSPA hopes that consumers will come to recognise the logo as a badge of excellence for VoIP providers, giving them the confidence
to try VoIP services from its members.
The ITSPA Code of Practice (CoP) is the fruit of many months of discussion and consultation. All ITSPA members providing services to consumers must
abide by this Code and inform their customers of the differences between VoIP services and traditional telephony services. Consumers can trust the
ITSPA logo to represent VoIP providers offering a high standard of consumer information awareness. Eli Katz, XConnect and ITSPA Council member,
explained, “This is a world first, and vital to ensure the rapid uptake by the mass-market of this new generation of services. We believe that this is a ‘Fair
CoP’; and we intend, as ITSPA, to act efficiently in administering and enforcing it”.
Kim Thesiger, Gossiptel and ITSPA Council member, stressed that ITSPA’s work has only just begun: “We will of course continue to work closely with
Ofcom and Industry Groups to ensure consumers are fully informed about VoIP services, but we felt it was prudent to launch the Code now, as services
are being offered today and consumers must be protected”. Claire Robinson, Centrica Communications (the company behind Onetel) and chair of the
ITSPA Code of Practice working group added, “The code is still a living document, but we hope that at this stage we have most of the substance needed
for a robust and workable code to protect consumers’ interests”.
The DTI and Ofcom have also welcomed ITSPA’s initiative. Claire Hobson, Head of Telecoms Policy at the DTI, said, "ITSPA's launch is a good step
towards putting the interests of consumers at the forefront of the Voice-over Internet Protocol industry. We'll certainly be working closely with the new
Association in our work to encourage the development of VoIP in the UK".
Allan Howes, CEO of Bon.net and ITSPA Council Member pointed out the importance of the ITSPA CoP on a practical level, “The Plain Old Telephone is changing: new services, including bon.net's Babble service, are likely to be so much more than just making a ‘phone call. As consumers, we all need organisations like ITSPA to ensure that all service providers maintain consistent standards, and that we have a readily identifiable marque that provides peace-of-mind when selecting that provider”.
The full press release is here