22nd February 2006

ITSPA cautiously optimistic about Ofcom’s VoIP approach

ITSPA, the UK’s Internet Telephony Services Providers Association, welcomes Ofcom’s continued positive commitment to the

development of VoIP, as set out in the consultation on the Regulation of VoIP. However, concerns remain that excessive regulation

could stifle the sector and ultimately limit consumers’ power of choice.

After many months of discussion with Ofcom, ITSPA is pleased that a full consultation on the regulation of VoIP has been launched, which places the

consumer at the heart of the debate and seeks to bring clarity to the market. ITSPA believes that VoIP will deliver increasing consumer choice and

new innovative features, and supports Ofcom’s consumer-oriented approach.

In addition, ITSPA recognises that Ofcom has proposed that many of the foundations for the success of VoIP Providers are maintained, such as

access to geographic numbering, number portability and an appropriate level of network integrity requirements. ITSPA also notes Ofcom’s comments

on naked-DSL and will be furthering its work to bring a naked-DSL product to market.

ITSPA appreciates Ofcom’s position with regard to the sensitive issue of access to emergency services and the need to ensure the safety of citizens

through regulation. ITSPA remains committed to ensuring consumers are fully informed about the benefits and capabilities of VoIP and has been

working hard over the last 18 months to ensure consumers are aware of the differences between VoIP and legacy telephony services. It should also

be noted that the UK is a pioneer in solutions for emergency access via new technologies.

However, ITSPA has some concerns about the proposals for full regulation of other areas of consumer information, such as number portability.

Eli Katz, ITSPA Chair said “The UK has become a hotbed for the development of VoIP and this is in no small part due to the light touch interim

approach that Ofcom put in place in September 2004. ITSPA is therefore concerned that proposals to regulate all consumer information requirements

could reverse this trend and shrink the range of innovative services currently on offer to consumers. The VoIP sector would seem to be an ideal

opportunity for Ofcom to deliver on one of its key principles of ‘least intrusive regulatory mechanisms’[1], especially as the ITSPA Code of Practice mandates many of these same issues on a self-regulatory basis”.

The specific detail of the consultation will provide a number of issues for the VoIP industry to discuss. ITSPA looks forward to fully contributing to the

consultation process over the coming weeks and continuing its work with Ofcom, consumers and other stakeholders to help the UK become a global

leader in IP communications.

[1] Ofcom's Regulatory Principles, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/about/sdrp/

The full press release is here

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