ITSPA, the trade body for the next generation communications industry, has broadly welcomed Ofcom’s consultation announcements on Thursday, but with some reservations around the potential approach to resolving the long-term problems around number portability.
The three separate consultations published by Ofcom today seek stakeholders’ views on number management, the future use of numbers, as well as interconnection and call termination respectively. These areas all need review as part of the planned PSTN switch off (targeted for 2025) and will help resolve a number of issues around nuisance calls, fraud, number range management and switching. These are all part of Ofcom’s plan to ensure the sector is fit for purpose as it migrates fully to IP networks and is welcome by ITSPA. However there remain some prevailing concerns around the potential approach Ofcom are considering in relation to number portability.
Reacting to the news, the Chair of ITSPA Eli Katz stated, “This consultation phase is a crucial step in shaping the future of our entire industry. We welcome the opportunity to engage and indeed are positive around the long-term benefits that Ofcom are looking to tackle. We also welcome Ofcom’s acceptance that as we transition to an all-IP world, certain areas of regulation (Interconnection for example) may need a review to ensure the competitiveness of the UK telecoms sector is maintained”.
Commenting in more detail on Ofcom’s desire to develop a common database of numbers, Katz added “ITSPA welcome the concept of forming a central database of numbers. This has long been necessary to tackle some of the industry pains of the past decade, particularly nuisance calls and porting. We have been heavily involved in Ofcom’s recent blockchain proof of concept, which is being looked into as a possible solution for number management and number portability. Whilst this is a positive step, we were concerned by Ofcom’s position that they expect industry to lead in the wider development around the database concept. ITSPA remains of the belief that Ofcom must play some active role in its development. There have been too many industry false starts on number portability over the past 10 years for it not to require some Ofcom leadership. Beyond the blockchain proof of concept plan, we would urge the regulator to outline its expected outcome in terms of consumer porting experience to assist the industry in developing a more advanced platform and would be happy to support them in this project”
More widely ITSPA will be looking to positively engage in these consultations, which will be vital to help shape the future of the telecommunications market, ensuring it continues to remain competitive and vibrant for the future.