Switch Call Ltd - alleged misuse of personal numbers

12 August 2005

Complainant: A member of the public
Complaint against: Switch Call Limited ("Switch Call")
Case opened: 5 May 2005
Case closed: 10 August 2005
Issue: Alleged misuse of 070 Personal Numbers
Relevant instrument: General Condition 17 of the General Conditions of Entitlement ("the Condition") which governs the allocation, adoption, and use of telephone numbers

Ofcom received a complaint alleging that numbers from the 070 range allocated to Switch Call were being misused in contravention of the Condition.

Switch Call has disconnected the relevant numbers and those on which similar services were being provided. Any breach in respect of these numbers has therefore ceased.

Switch Call had previously been the subject of an Ofcom investigation into the misuse of personal numbers (see related item). Ofcom has specifically investigated concerns about Switch Call's ability to ensure effective management of 070 numbers allocated to it which were operated on a switch partition under control of another communications provider. As a result, Ofcom received specific assurances and details of a compliance plan from Switch Call that would take steps to ensure a sufficiently robust procedure was in place to prevent similar misuse of 070 numbers in the future.

Switch Call has provided a copy of its compliance action plan to Ofcom. The compliance plan contains details of the steps Switch Call intends to take to ensure that it remains in compliance with its obligations under General Condition 17 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan with regard to the use of 070 numbers.

Having considered the detail of Switch Call's compliance plan, Ofcom has decided to close its ongoing investigation. However, Ofcom will continue to monitor Switch Call's performance against its compliance plan over the coming months.

Case Leader: Ruth Gibson (e-mail: Ruth.Gibson@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00832/04/05

Text published when the case was opened

Switch Call Ltd - alleged misuse of personal numbers

Complainant: A member of the public
Complaint against: Switch Call Ltd
Case opened: 5 May 2005
Issue: Alleged misuse of 070 Personal Numbers
Relevant instrument: General Condition 17 of the General Conditions of Entitlement ("the General Conditions") which governs the allocation, adoption, and use of telephone numbers

Update note - 2 June 2005

Following the opening of this investigation, COLT promptly ceased the service on the number which was the subject of the complaint as it did not appear to be complying with Ofcom's guidance on the use of 070 personal numbers. Any possible breach or misuse by COLT in relation to this number has therefore ceased and, as a result, Ofcom closed the investigation into COLT's alleged misuse of 070 numbers on 31 May. In closing the investigation against COLT, Ofcom has reminded COLT of its duty to act in accordance with Condition 17 of the General Conditions of Entitlement and The National Telephone Numbering Plan.

The investigation into the alleged misuse of 070 numbers by Switch Call Ltd is continuing.

End of update note

General Condition 17 requires that a Communications Provider install, maintain and adjust its Public Electronic Communications Networks so that it operates in accordance with the National Telephone Numbering Plan ("the Numbering Plan"). In addition, a Communications Provider must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that its customers comply with the provisions of General Condition 17 and the Numbering Plan when using telephone numbers.

The Numbering Plan designates 070 numbers as being available for personal numbering services, which are defined as being "a service based on number translation that enables End-Users to be called or otherwise contacted, using a single Personal Telephone Number, and to receive those calls or other communications at almost any Telephone Number, including Mobile Numbers".

Ofcom's guidance on the acceptable use of 070 numbers (see related items) makes clear that personal numbering services should benefit the end user of the service and that the end user will be the person that is called using the 070 number, and not the person making the call. The guidance further makes clear that the end user should be in charge of the destination number(s) to which the 070 number is directed and that an end user cannot be in charge of a number if that number can also be used to contact other end users.

Ofcom has received a complaint from a member of the public that both COLT and Switch Call Ltd have allowed 070 numbers that have been allocated to them to be used to provide international dial through services, whereby a consumer is allocated an 070 number that is used as a means of calling people abroad at cheaper rates. It has also been alleged that Switch Call has allowed 070 numbers allocated to it to be used as a switchboard number.

Ofcom is investigating these allegations.

Case Leader: Ruth Gibson (e-mail: Ruth.Gibson@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00832/04/05