|About the ACTs
- more information
Advisory Committees were established by the
Telecommunications Act 1984 There are six committees:
CCE - Communications for
England represents the interests of consumers in England
SACOT - Scottish Advisory
Committee on Telecommunications represents the interests of consumers in Scotland
WACT - Welsh Advisory
Committee on Telecommunications represents the interests of consumers in Wales
NIACT - Northern Ireland
Advisory Committee on Telecommunications represents the interests of consumers in Northern
DIEL - Advisory Committee
on Telecommunications for Disabled and Elderly represents the interests of disabled and
CfB - Communications for
Business represents the interests of small businesses
The Chairmen of the six ACTs meet regularly
in a non-statutory forum - the Telecoms Advisory Panel (TAP) - to co-ordinate their work,
and to raise matters with the Director General of Telecommunications.
To view the following TAP
publications, please click on:
TAP Annual report 2003
Annual report 2003 (welsh version)
Evidence to the Joint
Committee of the House of Lords and House of Commons on the Draft Communications Bill
Consumers and the
Draft Communications Bill - a seminar hosted by the Telecoms Advisory Panel (TAP)
TAP response to
the Draft Communications Bill
Members of the country committees are appointed by the Secretary of
State for Trade and Industry. Members of DIEL and CfB are appointed by the Director
General of Telecommunications.
Each committee meets at least four times a year. Some of these
meetings are held in public. You will find a link on the home page for each
committee to meeting dates and agendas.
The committees monitor and seek to influence the workings of the
telecommunications market and respond to consultations from OFTEL and other government
departments on regulatory policy.
As well as publishing written responses to formal consultations, the
- Commission market research
- Liaise with other national and local consumer organisations
- Host seminars and conferences
- Participate in OFTEL and industry working parties to promote consumer
information initiatives or to develop regulatory policy
- Publicise issues of concern to telecoms users
The public register of ACT member's interests can be viewed by
members of the public, by appointment only between the hours of
9.30 - 12.00pm and 2.00 - 4.00pm, Monday to Friday. For appointments please contact
Oftel's Research and Information Unit at Tel: 020 7634 8761 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
OFTEL is the Office of Telecommunications. It is the regulator - or
"watchdog" - for the UK telecommunications industry. It is headed by the
Director General of Telecommunications. The current Director General is David
OFTEL was set up under the Telecommunications Act 1984. Under this
Act OFTEL has a number of functions. Briefly these are:
- to ensure that licensees comply with their licence conditions
- to initiate the modification of licence conditions either by
agreement with the licensee or, failing that, by reference to the Monopolies and Mergers
Commission (MMC) together with the Director General of Fair Trading to enforce competition
legislation - under both the Fair Trading Act 1973 and the Competition Act 1980 - in
relation to telecommunications
- to advise the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on
telecommunications matters and the granting of new licences
- to obtain information and arrange for publication where this would
- to consider complaints and enquiries
made about telecommunications services or apparatus
Another area for which OFTEL has responsibilities is
telecommunications apparatus. This includes granting Site Specific Approvals to some
equipment for use in specified locations and issuing general Approvals to permit certain
classes of equipment to be approved and connected without the need for third-party
As part of this OFTEL maintains a register of apparatus approved
under section 22 of the Telecommunications Act.
OFTEL also keeps registers of all licences granted - including any
modifications of licence conditions and determinations, directions or orders made under
the licences - and applications for new licences.
OFTEL has other duties arising from the licences of the operators.
For example, OFTEL is responsible for administering the numbering scheme in the UK and
allocates blocks of telephone numbers to operators.
OFTEL also keeps an eye on developments overseas. Nowadays most UK
operators are international businesses and so are many of their major customers. So OFTEL
takes a global view and makes sure that UK policies and decisions reflect international
developments. OFTEL is also closely involved with telecommunications developments in the
Under the Telecommunications Act, the Director General has a duty to
carry out these functions in a way which he considers will best:
- ensure that telecommunications services are provided in the UK to
meet all reasonable demands for them (this included emergency services, public call boxes,
directory information services and services in rural areas)
- ensure that those providing services are able to finance them
- promote the interests of consumers
- maintain and promote effective competition
- ensure that those providing services are doing so efficiently
- promote research and development
- encourage major users of telecommunications services located outside
the UK to establish businesses here
- enable UK-based telecommunications companies to compete effectively
The Director General has extensive powers under the
Telecommunications Act, particularly when enforcing or modifying licence conditions. If a
condition is breached, he can require the licence holder to comply by making an order.
This is enforceable by third parties or the Director General through civil action. He can
also make determinations.
OFTEL is a non-ministerial Government department and so
is independent of ministerial control. The Director General is appointed by the Secretary
of State for Trade and Industry and the appointment usually runs for five years.
OFTEL has about 200 staff, all based at Ludgate Hill in
London. Some are from the Civil Service and others are experts from consumer, business and
OFTEL's funding is provided by Parliament but the cost
is offset almost entirely by the licence fees paid in by the operators.
OFTEL can be contacted at:
50 Ludgate Hill
Tel: 020 7634 8700
This Act was passed by the government in 1984 to licence British
Telecom when it was split off from the Post Office and privatised, and to provide a
framework for promoting competition. Since that time other telecommunications network and
service providers have been licensed, and now there are over 300 licensed companies. Their
licences are issued by the Department of Trade and Industry, but monitored and when
necessary amended by OFTEL.
(1) The Secretary of State shall, as soon as
practicable after the appointed day, establish advisory bodies for matters affecting
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively; and each body so established
shall consist of such members as he may from time to time appoint.
(2) In establishing a body under section (1)
above, the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability of having members who
are familiar with the special requirements and circumstances of the part of the United
Kingdom concerned (including, in particular, the special requirements and circumstances of
consumers, purchasers and other users in that part of telecommunication services and
(3) Subject to subsection (1) above, the Director may establish such
advisory bodies as he thinks fit consisting in each case of such members as he may from
time to time appoint.
(4) Without prejudice to his power under subsection (3) above, the
Director shall, as soon as practicable after the appointed day and after consultation with
the Secretary of State, establish -
(a) an advisory body for matters affecting small businesses;
(b) an advisory body for matters affecting persons who are disabled or of pensionable age.
(5) In establishing an advisory body under subsection (4) above, the
Director shall have regard to the desirability of having members who are familiar with the
special requirements and circumstances of small businesses or persons who are disabled or
of pensionable age, as the case may require.
(6) It shall be the duty of an advisory body established under this
section to advise the Director on any matter -
(a) in respect of which any of the Director's functions is exercisable; and
(b) which is referred to it by the Director or is a matter on which it considers it should
offer its advice.
(7) Each of the advisory bodies established under subsection (1) or
(4) above shall, as soon as practicable after the end of the year 1984 and of each
subsequent year calender year, make to the Director a report on its activities during that
(8) The Secretary of State or the Director may, to such extent as
may be approved by the Treasury, defray or contribute towards the expenses of an advisory
body established under this section.
A full version of the Telecommunications Act 1984 is available from The Stationary Office (formerly HMSO) at £18.00. ISBN