Investigation against Interphone about possible breaches of the General Conditions of Entitlement

25 February 2005

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Investigation against: Interphone Public Networks Limited ("Interphone")
Case opened: 5 March 2004
Case closed: 21 June 2004
Issue: Maintenance of Public Pay Telephones
Relevant instrument: General Conditions 3, 4 and 6 of the General Conditions of Entitlement which govern the proper and effective functioning of the network and the provision of emergency call numbers and other services from Public Pay Telephones (PPTs). Sections 94 to 104 of the Communications Act 2003 governing enforcement of the General Conditions.

Ofcom received complaints from a number of local authorities regarding the condition of PPTs operated by Interphone. Initially Ofcom's primary concern arising from the complaints was the indication that a significant number of Interphone's PPTs did not function at any given time.

After further consideration of information provided by the local authorities and by Interphone, and following further discussions with various local authorities, Ofcom has concluded that this matter more properly concerns the abandonment of apparatus rather than a potential breach of the General Conditions of Entitlement.

Ofcom notes the limitations on the rights granted to operators under the Electronic Communications Code set out in Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act 1984 (as amended) and in particular paragraph 22 of the Electronic Communications Code which, in summary, provides that operators are not entitled to keep apparatus installed if the apparatus is no longer used and there is no reasonable likelihood that it will be used.

Ofcom is aware that a number of local authorities are now in the process of taking steps under their own powers to deal with this issue. Ofcom recognises that the condition of Interphone's disused public call boxes raises serious issues both from a regulatory and social point of view. Where apparatus is no longer used Ofcom supports local authority initiatives to take action within their powers to deal with the issue.

Ofcom has therefore decided not to pursue the investigation at this time. Ofcom will closely monitor any future developments on this issue and will consider re-opening the investigation in the event that it receives further information or complaints relating to any breach of the General Conditions of Entitlement.

Ofcom will also maintain contact with various local authorities in order to continue to explore the most effective means to deal with these issues.

Case Leader: Jonathan Blackburn (e-mail: Jonathan.Blackburn@ofcom.org.uk)
Case reference: CW/00752/02/04

Text published when the case was opened Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Complaint against: Interphone Public Networks Limited ("Interphone")
Case opened: 5 March 2004
Issue: Maintenance of Public Pay Telephones
Relevant instrument: General Conditions 3, 4 and 6 of the General Conditions of Entitlement which govern the proper and effective functioning of the network and the provision of emergency call numbers and other services from Public Pay Telephones. Sections 94 to 104 of the Communications Act 2003 governing enforcement of the General Conditions.

Ofcom has opened an investigation into the provision of Public Pay Telephones (PPTs) by Interphone. Ofcom has received complaints from a number of Local Authorities regarding the condition of PPTs operated by Interphone. The primary concern for Ofcom arising from the complaints is the indication that a significant number of Interphone's PPTs do not function at any given time. General Condition 3 requires communications providers to take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, the proper and effective functioning of the public telephone networks they provide and also uninterrupted access to emergency services.

Ofcom is also considering whether Interphone has failed to fulfil any of its obligations under General Condition 4 to provide Emergency Call Numbers or General Condition 6, in particular the obligations to provide access to operator assistance and Directory Enquiry Facilities and maintain certain notices in PPTs.

Ofcom is investigating this matter under the Communications Act 2003.

Case Leader: Jonathan Blackburn (e-mail: jonathan.blackburn@ofcom.org.uk)
Case reference: CW/00752/02/04