Own-initiative investigation against unknown end-users and/or TelXL Ltd and Xero9 Ltd about possible misuse of personal numbers and possible persistent misuse of networks or services

04 October 2004

Complainant : Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Complaint against: Unknown end-users and/or TelXL Ltd and Xero 9 Ltd
Case opened: 1 October 2004
Case closed: 11 January 2005
Issue: Possible persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or services and the possible misuse of personal numbers

Relevant instrument: Section 128 of the Communications Act 2003, which relates to the persistent misuse of networks or services and General Condition 17 of the General Conditions of Entitlement, which governs the allocation, adoption and use of telephone numbers

Ofcom conducted an own-initiative investigation following consumer complaints to Ofcom about the use of personal numbers allocated to TelXL Ltd and Xero 9 Ltd.

Many of the complaints stemmed from consumers complaining that they received a missed call on their phone from a personal number. This could be considered a persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service and a misuse of personal numbers and thus was investigated under section 128 of the Communications Act and General Condition 17.

TelXL Ltd and Xero 9 Ltd have disconnected the relevant numbers and those on which similar services were being provided. A recorded message stating the service 'has been suspended' has been placed on the relevant 070 numbers.

Additionally they have cancelled the reseller agreements with the parties deemed responsible for the services operated on the numbers. Any possible breach or misuse has therefore ceased and, as a result, Ofcom has closed this case.

In closing this case, Ofcom has reminded TelXL Ltd and Xero 9 Ltd of their duty to act in accordance with Condition 17 of the General Conditions of Entitlement and The National Telephone Numbering Plan.

Case Leader : Ian Vaughan (email: Ian.Vaughan@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00788/09/04

Text published when the case was opened

Issue: Possible persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or services and the possible misuse of personal numbers.
Relevant instrument:
Ofcom will investigate under section 128 of the Communications Act 2003, which relates to the persistent misuse of networks or services and General Condition 17 of the General Conditions of Entitlement, which governs the allocation, adoption and use of telephone numbers.

In line with Ofcom's Guidelines for the handling of competition complaints, and complaints and disputes about breaches of conditions imposed under the EU Directives please see related items, Ofcom is proceeding under the Communications Act 2003 as the subject-matter of the complaint deals with a potential breach of the General Conditions of Entitlement and/or a specific prohibition under the Communications Act 2003 and does not appear to raise any competition concerns.

Background:
Ofcom has received complaints about missed calls on mobile handsets. It is alleged that when these numbers are called back, the caller is held on the line for around 45 seconds while attempts are made to locate the owner of the number, and the caller is eventually asked to leave a message. It is alleged that the callers have been unable to speak to the owner of the number despite making several calls to the numbers at various times.

Ofcom has also received complaints about alleged emails and faxes sent to recruitment companies announcing the creation of a hotel chain. It is alleged that the recipients are encouraged to contact them on an 070 number to discuss recruitment opportunities. Again, it is alleged that callers have been unable to speak directly to the owner of the number despite several attempts at various times.

The 070 numbers in question have been allocated to TelXL Ltd and Xero9 Ltd.

Case Leader: Ian Vaughan (e-mail: Ian.Vaughan@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00788/09/04