Dispute relating to TelNG’s compliance with General Condition 17 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan

22 July 2016

Dispute between: (i) TelNG Limited (TelNG) and (ii) Hutchinson 3G UK Limited (Three) concerning TelNG’s compliance with General Condition 17 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan
Case opened: 1 April 2016
Case closed: 22 July 2016
Issue: Ofcom was asked to resolve a dispute under section 185 of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act) concerning TelNG’s compliance with General Condition 17 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan.
Relevant instrument: Ofcom resolved this dispute using its powers under Chapter 3 of Part 2 of the Act.

On 22 July 2016, Ofcom issued its Final Determination to the parties resolving this dispute. A non-confidential version of the Final Determination is available under related items.

Update note: 1 June 2016

Ofcom has today published its Provisional Conclusions regarding this dispute (please see related item).

The period for comments on the Provisional Conclusions will close at 5pm on Wednesday 15 June 2016.

Please send responses to:
Tor Ahjem
Ofcom
Riverside House
2A Southwark Bridge Road
London
SE1 9HA

Or by e-mail tor.ahjem@ofcom.org.uk    

End of update note

This dispute concerns TelNG’s UK03 service, which enables consumers to call international destinations using 03 numbers. Three considers that TelNG’s UK03 service constitutes revenue sharing as TelNG uses the termination charge it receives for terminating the 03 call to pay for the international call as an additional service, and that this is prohibited by Ofcom.

The 03 number range was opened by Ofcom in 2007 for organisations that required a national, location-neutral number but did not wish to use a range that would lead to an additional charge to consumers (e.g. 0870) nor to use a Freephone number that would cost them significantly more to operate than a geographic number. Revenue sharing with end-users has never been allowed on the 03 range. The issue in dispute is whether TelNG is sharing revenue from calls to 03 numbers with end-users and is therefore in breach of the National Telephone Numbering Plan (NTNP).

In resolving disputes, Ofcom must act in accordance with the six Community requirements that give effect to Article 8 of the Framework Directive.

In summary, those requirements are:

  • to promote competition in communications markets;
  • to secure that Ofcom contributes to development of the European internal market;
  • to promote the interests of all European Union citizens;
  • to act in a manner which, so far as practicable, is technology-neutral;
  • to encourage, to the extent Ofcom considers it appropriate, the provision of network access and service interoperability; and
  • to encourage such compliance with certain international standards as is necessary for facilitating service interoperability and securing freedom of choice for the customers of communications providers.

Ofcom considers that there is a dispute between the parties, that commercial negotiations have failed to resolve, within the meaning of s185 of the Communications Act 2003 in relation to TelNG’s compliance with General Condition 17 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan. Ofcom considers that the dispute meets the relevant statutory criteria and it is appropriate for Ofcom to handle it according to section 186 of the Act, and accordingly, Ofcom has accepted the dispute for resolution.

Scope of the dispute:

After consideration of the submissions received from TelNG and Three, the scope of the dispute is whether TelNG’s UK03 service is compliant with GC17 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan.

Procedural matters:

In line with Ofcom’s Guidance on the resolution of disputes published in June 2011, Ofcom is not consulting on the scope of this dispute. Ofcom’s guidelines can be found at: Ofcom's Guidelines for the handling of regulatory disputes

Stakeholders interested in the outcome of this dispute should notify Ofcom by 18 April 2016, describing the relevance of the outcome of this dispute to their business. Stakeholders with relevant information and evidence in respect of this dispute should submit this to Ofcom by 18 April 2016.

Stakeholders who wish Ofcom to join them as parties to the dispute must provide evidence, as set out in Ofcom's Guidelines, that they are in dispute.

Case Leader: Tor Ahjem (e-mail: tor.ahjem@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01177/03/16