30th November 2006

Red Tape puts 999 Services at Risk

ITSPA has announced its general support for Ofcom’s decision to make 999 mandatory for certain types of VoIP services. From 8th September 2008, all VoIP services that allow users to make calls to normal national phone numbers (Type 2 and Type 4 services) will have to provide a 999/112 service. 

ITSPA Chair Eli Katz said: "ITSPA has always advocated the requirement for VoIP services to offer 999 and many of its members are already providing this service. Whilst we have had some concerns with aspects of the proposals and timescales for implementation, we are supportive of the Ofcom statement. We look forward to working with the regulator to ensure all our members are compliant by next September."

ITSPA will be keen to make sure that Ofcom enforces this statement properly, along with the other regulatory changes made this year. This should include all providers, offering a service to UK customers, including those that operate from overseas.

Points which ITSPA are keen to highlight:

1. Ofcom’s announcement is in line with proposals across the European Union to require all providers of standard phone services to provide access to emergency services.

2. ITSPA's main concern has been the additional regulatory obligations, which attach complexity and cost to the provision of 999 access. Some VoIP providers who were not previously subject to these regulations will find themselves now classed as providers of "publicly available telephony services" and thus subject to extra obligations. ITSPA has long advocated the delinkage of PATS obligations with 999 access and welcome the recent ERG paper which supports this idea. It also welcomes proposed changes in definition within the EU Telecoms Framework Review.

3. There are a number of elements in terms of cost and time for VoIP providers, which need to be considered. While ITSPA deems it feasible, there are a number of technical, legal and contractual hoops to go through. We would have preferred a 12 month timescale to be compliant with all PATS conditions and to establish an interface with a 999 operator.

4. In terms of location information, ITSPA members are working within the NICC to provide a resilient solution to this problem.


The full press release is here

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