Own initiative investigation into possible persistent misuse of networks or services and possible misuse of 070 personal numbers by TelXL

12 April 2006

Complainant : Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Complaint against : TelXL Limited (“TelXL”)
Case opened : 18 August 2005
Case closed: 17 February 2006
Issue: Possible persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or services and the misuse of 070 numbers allocated to TelXL
Relevant instrument: General Condition 17 ("GC17") of the General Conditions of Entitlement which governs the allocation, adoption, and use of telephone numbers and section 128 of the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”), which relates to the persistent misuse of networks or services

Update note - 12 April 2006

Ofcom closed this case on 17 February 2006 by issuing a notification under Section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 of contravention of General Condition 17. A non-confidential version of the notification has been prepared and is available at the end of the page below.

End of update note

Ofcom has concluded that there are reasonable grounds for believing that TelXL has contravened and is contravening General Condition 17.8, on the basis that it has failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to secure that its Customers comply with the provisions of GC17 and the National Telephone Numbering Plan with regard to 070 numbers. General Condition 17.8 provides:

“ The Communications Provider shall take all reasonably practicable steps to secure that its Customers, in using Telephone Numbers, comply with the provisions of this Condition, where applicable, and the provisions of the National Telephone Numbering Plan.”

Ofcom therefore issued a notification to TelXL on 17 February 2006 under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003, setting out the contravention and requiring TelXL to comply with General Condition 17.8, and to provide a compliance plan detailing the steps that TelXL has taken or is taking to comply with GC17.8, by 20 March 2006. Ofcom will monitor TelXL 's compliance with the requirements of the notification.

Representations concerning this notification

TelXL has until 20 March 2006 to make representations to Ofcom about the matters set out in the notification.

A non-confidential version of the notification is currently being prepared and will be published in due course.

Case Leader: Ruth Gibson ( e-mail: ruth.gibson@ofcom.org.uk )
Case Reference: CW/00853/08/05

Text published when the case was opened

Own initiative investigation into possible persistent misuse of networks or services and possible misuse of 070 personal numbers by TelXL

Complainant : Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Complaint against : TelXL Limited (“TelXL”)
Case opened : 18 August 2005
Issue: Possible persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or services and the misuse of 070 numbers allocated to TelXL
Relevant instrument: General Condition 17 ("GC17") of the General Conditions of Entitlement which governs the allocation, adoption, and use of telephone numbers and section 128 of the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”), which relates to the persistent misuse of networks or services

Ofcom has opened a new investigation to consider:

1. whether TelXL is meeting its regulatory obligations under GC17 regarding the use of 070 personal numbers; and
2. whether TelXL has persistently misused an electronic communications network or service.

Ofcom has previously investigated the possible misuse of 070 personal numbers and/or the possible persistent misuse of networks or services by TelXL. Following steps taken by TelXL to disconnect the relevant numbers and to terminate certain reseller agreements, Ofcom closed that investigation on 11 January 2005 whilst reminding TelXL of its duty to act in accordance with GC17 (see http://www.ofcom.org.uk/bulletins/comp_bull_index/comp_bull_ccases/closed_all/cw_788/ ).

However, following the closure of that investigation, evidence of further possible misuse of 070 numbers by TelXL has come to Ofcom's attention. The further possible misuse could broadly be divided into two different categories described below.

The first concerns the practice known as 'CLI dumping', where missed calls from 070 numbers are registered by mobile handsets. Ofcom has continued to receive complaints from consumers about missed calls on mobile handsets. In some instances, it has been alleged that repeated calls are made to the same mobile handset within minutes of each other. If an attempt is made to call the number generating the missed calls, the caller is allegedly held on the line while a recorded message announces that attempts are being made to locate the owner of the number, but the caller is unable to speak to the owner of the number. In other cases, it has been alleged that a recorded message asks the caller to call another number to reach the owner of the number.

The second category of possible misuse covers the alleged misuse of 070 personal numbers for making international calls and for adult chat services.

Ofcom intends to investigate these complaints under GC17, which governs the allocation, adoption, and use of telephone numbers, and section 128 of the Act, which relates to the persistent misuse of networks or services.

Under section128 of the Act, a person misuses an electronic communications network or electronic communications service if-
(a) the effect or likely effect of his use of the network or service is to cause another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety; or
(b) he uses the network or service to engage in conduct the effect or likely effect of which is to cause another person unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.

Ofcom has, in accordance with section 131 of the Act, published a statement of its policy on persistent misuse. In exercising any of its powers in this investigation, Ofcom will have regard to that statement together with any other guidance that appears relevant, such as the Personal Numbering guidelines on the acceptable use of 070 numbers (revised on 24 January 2004).

Case Leader: Ruth Gibson (ruth.gibson@ofcom.org.uk )
Case Reference: CW/00853/08/05