SACOT minutes of
the 85th meeting held on Tuesday 24th June 2003 at 28 Thistle
Jeremy Mitchell (Chairman)
Barry Stevens MBE
Peter Wilson (Consultant)
George Halford (SACOT Secretary)
Jan Edwards (SACOT Assistant Secretary)
1. OPENING REMARKS AND APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
1.1 The Chairman welcomed Members to the
1.2 Apologies for absence had been received
from Alastair Robertson, Chris Griffith and Katherine Phipps.
1.3 The Chairman suggested that the local
Consumers' Association representative should be invited to attend
the next meeting and this was agreed.
2. MINUTES OF THE 84th MEETING HELD ON 29th APRIL 2003
2.1 The minutes were approved.
3. MATTERS ARISING FROM THE 83rd MEETING
· 5.7 Research
3.1 The Chairman noted that he had suggested that it would be
useful if SACOT commissioned research to prepare an agenda for
the incoming Ofcom consumer panel. The Chairman proposed that
this should be based on a series of focus groups to identify
the major issues of concern to consumers and that the focus
groups should include representatives of small businesses in
remote areas and unwaged/low income consumers to ensure that
their views were taken account of. Peter Wilson felt that it
would be important to present the specific needs of Scotland
clearly. Barry Stevens suggested that service industries would
need to be represented due to their significance in remote areas.
The Committee agreed that this research should proceed and the
Chairman undertook to contact Colin Adamson, the researcher
who had undertaken the previous SACOT research projects to develop
· 5.7 Proposed
meeting of consumer organisations, Glasgow
3.2 The Committee again discussed this proposal but agreed that
it would not be possible to develop the plans until more was
known of Ofcom's and the Consumer Panel's arrangements in Scotland.
There might be a need to develop a seminar rapidly once more
was known and this would probably not be before late August
or early September. The subject would be discussed at the next
· 5.7 National
3.3 Members wished to know if plans for a National conference
of ACT Members had been progressed. The Secretary reported that
as far as he was aware no detailed planning had yet commenced.
Members agreed that it would be useful to convene nationally
to review the process of handing over consumer representation
of telecommunications matters to the Consumer Panel. The Chairman
undertook to raise the matter with the Chairman of the Telecommunications
Advisory Panel (TAP) for their next meeting as there was an
urgent need to progress the matter given the limited time available
to ACT Members.
· 11.1 BT
'trigger' levels for exchanges
3.4 Mark Hagger thanked the Secretary for obtaining the latest
information from BT about the broadband 'trigger' levels for
exchanges in Scotland. The rate of subsequent take-up after
enablement of exchanges was also very illuminating. He assumed
the varying levels of 'triggers' to be dependent on BT economics.
However, there were large swathes of the country that did not
appear to have 'trigger' levels set for them, again presumably
because BT had calculated that broadband enablement would be
uneconomic. It would be useful to hear from BT what proposals
they add for the remaining exchanges, in view of recent developments
in technology for broadband enablement in small exchanges. Barry
Stevens noted that Lerwick did not yet have a 'trigger' level
set, although some 249 customers had registered their interest
in broadband and this was higher than many exchanges that had
had their target set. Mark Hagger mentioned that Banchory had
achieved their target within two months after an intensive local
campaign. The Secretary agreed to forward these points to BT
and the Chairman suggested that BT should be invited to address
the Committee at the next meeting to update Members on broadband
developments. The Committee endorsed this proposal.
· 15.3 Designation
of Bodies to make 'Super Complaints'
3.5 The Chairman reported that he had received a response from
the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department
of Trade and Industry indicating that a public body, such as
SACOT, was able to be designated for the purposes of raising
a 'super complaint'.
4. REPORTS FROM CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS
i. Chairman's Report
Conference 30 April
4.1 The Chairman had attended this conference which had been
addressed by the Chairman of Ofcom, Lord Currie, but there had
been no new information of interest to the Committee.
Ofcom Seminar 21 May
4.2 This round-table discussion with Richard Hooper, Chairman
of the Content Board, and Tim Souter, of Ofcom, had largely
concerned broadcasting and discussed how accountability to viewers
could best be achieved. It emerged that systematic research
may be needed to determine this as well as other initiatives
to build sound relationships with viewers. The Chairman had
taken the opportunity to discuss with Lord Currie and Richard
Hooper their thoughts on a Scottish Advisory Committee to Ofcom.
It was clear they preferred such a committee to be non-statutory,
as they believed this would give it greater flexibility. However,
much would depend on whether the Consumer Panel established
a sub-committee for Scotland (whether statutory or not).
Meeting 23 May
4.3 The Chairman reported that he had had a meeting with Andrew
Stirling who had been commissioned to undertake a mapping study
of complaint handling across the five regulators that would
be replaced by into Ofcom. This had been a useful opportunity
to present SACOT's views on the current centralised Oftel system
and its implications for national consumer representatives.
Council 5 May, 2 June
4.4 The Chairman had attended these meetings in his role as
a Member of the Telecommunications Ombudsman Scheme Council.
He reported that currently the constitution and terms of reference
were being revised to include all types of service providers
and thus enable them to join the scheme, in line with the provisions
of the Communications Bill.
ii Members' Reports
Services Authority - e-Commerce Committee
4.5 Alastair Robertson was not present to report on this item.
Oftel Committee for Business
4.6 Alastair Robertson was not present to report on this item.
Directory Enquiries Consumer Group
4.7 Although Alastair Robertson was not present to report on
this item, the Secretary had attended the last meeting of this
group, as Alistair Robertson had been unavailable. The Secretary
reported that it had largely been concerned with the issue of
the consumer information leaflet detailing a number of service
providers and their charges. This leaflet included the Oftel
logo and gave the appearance of being an Oftel publication whereas
it was an industry leaflet that had received permission to display
the Oftel logo. There was concern that the information was published
in small fonts that would be difficult for visually impaired
consumers. No large font or Braille versions were available.
The Secretary had raised the issue of 'reverse searching' and
had been reassured to he hear that all service providers were
using the BT database which had a condition of use that no reverse
searching would be allowed. However, this would not prevent
service providers from building their own databases that would
then not preclude reverse searching.
Forum on Communications
4.8 Peter Wilson reported that the last meeting of this group
had largely concerned the position of the BBC in relation to
Ofcom, an update of progress on the Communications Bill and
progress in the formation of Ofcom. The next meeting would consider
the item suggested by the Secretary when he last attended this
group, in Peter Wilson's absence, namely the future role of
CFC in the Ofcom regime.
5. SECRETARY'S REPORT
on Assistive Technology 30 April
5.1 The Secretary had attended this event but found that only
one session was concerned with the development of new telecommunications
equipment for the physically impaired.
Enquiry Consumer Group 13 May
5.2 See item 4.7 above.
Seminar, Scottish Media Group, Glasgow 30 May
5.3 The Secretary had attended this event at which Lord Currie
briefed attendees on the progress being made to establish Ofcom
and handled many questions from media representatives mainly
concerning broadcasting. The Secretary had made the point that
the Consumer Panel would need to interface with other European
consumer groups if it was to contribute meaningfully to EU developments,
given Ofcom's responsibilities for representing UK matters in
meetings of European regulators.
Chairmen's Group 2 June
5.4 The Secretary had attended this meeting and reported on
SACOT's activities in relation to the Communications Bill. He
undertook to circulate the minutes to Members.
Meeting, Aberystwyth 12 June
5.5 The Secretary attended this meeting which again focused
on the need to develop effective plans for the transition from
ACTs to the Consumer Panel later in the year. The Secretary
reported on the useful and constructive visit to Edinburgh by
Tony Stoller of Ofcom. The Secretary undertook to circulate
the minutes of the meeting.
· Communications Management
Association (CMA)/SACOT Meeting 24 June
5.6 The Secretary had arranged this meeting through CMA to allow
UniTech and Liz Greenberg of Oftel to address business representatives.
Liz Greenberg gave a presentation on the current consultation
document on corporate numbering. The meeting was attended by
about a dozen CMA members.
British Standards Institute (BSI) Reception 10 June
5.7 The Secretary attended this reception which was addressed
by Graeme Millar, Chairman of SCC. Alastair Robertson had been
present as a BSI member.
meeting on Codes of Practice 19 June
5.8 The Secretary had attended this meeting with Alastair Robertson.
It was convened to review sample codes of practice prepared
by a range of service providers. While one was excellent, others
needed minor improvement and some were woefully inadequate.
Most needed clearer information on dispute resolution options
and the Secretary found that many used vague language such as
'we aim to', 'will endeavour to', etc. Copies with comments
were passed to Oftel. This was a useful meeting and the SACOT
representatives felt that Oftel welcomed the consumer perspective
6. COMPLAINTS STATISTICS
6.1 Despite the advance notification to
Oftel of SACOT meeting dates the complaints statistics had not
arrived in sufficient time to be distributed with the agenda..
The Secretary was asked to communicate with Oftel to advise
that their usefulness was much diminished by having them supplied
so close to the meeting date. Mark Hagger noted a significant
increase in complaints from the Aberdeen postcode area but there
was no indication as to the cause. The appearance of a complaints
category for broadband was noted but it was not apparent whether
the complaints were about non-availability, speed of installation
or technical problems. The Secretary was asked to relay these
questions to Oftel.
6.2 The Secretary had responded to a request
from Peter Sayers, Chair of the Telecomms Advisory Panel (TAP),
to submit SACOT's views on complaint handling for his meeting
with Ed Richards of Ofcom. This had been copied to Members and
the Chairman and the views were endorsed.
7. COMMUNICATIONS BILL
7.1 The Chairman noted that the Communications
Bill was at a key stage in the House of Lords - the report stage.
The Secretary had responded to a request from Baroness Finlay
of Llandaff for briefing material on statutory advisory committees
but the amendment had yet to be moved. The Secretary was distributing
copies of Hansard that would be of interest to members. The
Chairman had had a meeting with Kenny MacAskill MSP to review
the implications of the Communications Bill for telecommunications
consumers in Scotland. Mark Hagger suggested that, once the
Communications Bill received Royal Assent, SACOT should prepare
a brief for consumers and the Chairman agreed to undertake this.
(Secretary's Note: An amendment was passed at Third Reading
requiring Ofcom to establish national committees in England,
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.)
8. OFCOM transition
8.1 Peter Sayers was due to meet Ed Richards
of Ofcom to discuss the implications for ACTs and to input ACT
views. The Secretary reported that a 'job matching' exercise
was due to tale place in July. Following this Oftel staff would
be informed of whether they were matched to a job on individual
basis, or had been identified with others as being matched to
a post (a selection process would follow), or had not been matched
to any post. The Secretary pointed out that this would be complicated
in Scotland by considerations of whether the Consumer Panel
might establish a Scottish committee, a closer approximation
of SACOT's role. The Chairman undertook to write to Sandra Jenner,
of Ofcom, accordingly.
Consultation document responses for formal endorsement
9. i SACOT Response to DTI Consultation
Document 2003/S044: "Draft Numbering Exclusion Order"
ii SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S046: "Notification of Proposals for the
Designation of Universal Service Providers and the Setting of
iii SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S054: "Review of the Fixed Geographic Call
iv SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S055: "Review of the Wholesale International
Services Markets and Related Remedies"
v SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S056: "Review of the Fixed Narrowband Retail
vi SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S057: "Review of the Wholesale Unmetered
Narrowband Internet Termination Markets"
vii SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S058: "Review of the Fixed Narrowband Wholesale
Exchange Line, Call Origination, Conveyance and Transit Markets"
viii SACOT Response to DTI Consultation
Document 2003/S059: "Directive on Privacy and Electronic
ix SACOT Response to DTI Consultation
Document 2003/S060: "General Conditions of Entitlement"
x SACOT Response to Home Office Consultation
Document 2003/S062: "Access to Communications Data Respecting
Privacy and Protecting the Public from Crime"
xi SACOT Response to Home Office Consultation
Document 2003/S063: "Code of Practice for Voluntary Retention
of Communications Data"
xii SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S066: "Review of Dispute Procedure Schemes"
xiii SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S072: "Review of Competition: Mobile Access
and Call Origination"
xiv SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S074: "Public Payphones: Implementation of
Universal Service Obligations"
xv SACOT Response to Oftel Consultation
Document 2003/S088: "Review of the Wholesale Broadband
xvi SACOT Response to ICSTIS Consultation
Document 2003/S096: "Code of Practice"
9.1 The Committee endorsed all these responses.
9.2 Mark Hagger noted that some SACOT responses
identified concerns that SACOT felt should be monitored in future.
He suggested that it would be useful for any new Scottish Advisory
Committee to have these listed. The Secretary undertook to investigate
whether this could be accomplished.
9.3 The Chairman had, as was agreed at the
last meeting, written to the Association of Chief Police Officers
Scotland (ACPOS) bringing their attention to the implications
of 'reverse searching' in connection with the Consultation Document
listed at 9.viii above. A response had been received which echoed
SACOT's concerns of intrusion and security and suggested that
if such a facility were to be available, it should only be with
explicit consent. The Chairman undertook to submit a supplementary
Consultation documents for discussion
10. i Oftel Consultation Document (2003/S064):
"Corporate Numbering: a new option for businesses"
10.1 In view of the Secretary's attendance
at the CMA/SACOT meeting held on 24 June, the Chairman requested
that the Secretary prepare a draft SACOT response incorporating
any views expressed by business representatives.
ii Oftel Consultation Document (2003/S092):
"National Roaming Condition - Consultation to set a National
Roaming Condition after 25 July 03"
10.2 As Members had no views to express
on this consultation, the Chairman undertook to consider further
whether a response was necessary and progress accordingly.
iii Oftel Consultation Document (2003/S097):
"Financial Reporting Obligations in SMP Markets"
10.3 It was decided that SACOT would not
respond to this consultation.
iv Oftel Consultation Document (2003/S098):
"Review of Mobile Wholesale Voice Call Termination Markets"
10.4 Kenneth Murray observed that the comment
that consumers did not consider the costs of incoming mobile
calls was misleading, as consumers were not generally provided
with such information. He favoured solution 4 as this gave consumers
choice. The Chairman thanked Kenneth Murray for his comments
and undertook to incorporate them in SACOT's response.
11. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
11.1 The Chairman reviewed the results of
the 3.4 GHz auction. The Committee was concerned that one company
had succeeded in obtaining 13 out of 5 licences. The Secretary
was asked to enquire of Oftel what the implications for competition
in telecommunications in Scotland might be.
12. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
12.1 Tuesday 2 September at 10.30 a.m. at
28 Thistle Street, Edinburgh