Own-initiative enforcement programme to give effect to General Condition 4 (Emergency Call Numbers)

16 February 2009

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative
Investigation against: Communications Providers that operate fixed networks
Case opened: 14 December 2007
Case closed: 13 February 2009
Issue: Compliance with the obligation that Communications Providers shall, to the extent technically feasible, make Caller Location Information for all calls to emergency call numbers available to the Emergency Organisations handling those calls
Relevant Instrument: General Condition 4 of the General Conditions of Entitlement (“GC 4”)

Update note 16 February 2009

Under this programme Ofcom has gathered information to monitor the compliance with GC4 of all fixed line operators. As well as setting up a monitoring programme with the two main call handling agents (“CHAs”), BT and C&W, the programme has sought opinion from the different types of stakeholders involved in emergency calls by meeting with various Communications Providers (“CPs”), various emergency authorities, the CHAs and the Government’s 999 Liaison Committee. Part of the programme included a letter being sent by the Director of Investigations to all CPs reminding them of their obligations under GC4.2, in particular that location information supplied to emergency authorities should be the installation address of the caller rather than any other address (e.g. the billing address). This was followed up by a letter from Ed Richards to the CEOs of the same CPs.  

The programme has also consulted with the CHAs on best practice with regard to CPs meeting their obligations under GC4.2. A set of guidelines has been developed through discussions between Ofcom and the CHAs and it was agreed at the 999 Liaison Committee meeting on 21 January 2009, that these best practice guidelines be incorporated into the committee’s Public Electronic Communication Services’ (PECS) Code of Practice. 

Following this, Ofcom has decided to close this programme and amalgamate the continuing monitoring and compliance work in this important area into its GC4 enforcement programme for VoIP operators, as there are significant cross-overs between the two programmes. Any incidences of non-compliance will continue to be dealt with via own-initiative investigations (see related items).

End of update note

Update note – 13 October 2008

Ofcom is continuing to check industry compliance with the requirements of GC4 via its monitoring programme. Ofcom is also continuing to discuss with industry best practice for compliance with the obligations of GC4.

In order for this work to be finalised, Ofcom has extended this enforcement programme by four months from 13 October 2008.

Update note - 16 June 2008

Ofcom has established a programme of monitoring industry compliance with the requirements of GC4. This programme gathers data from the two main call handling agents who answer 999/112 calls and connect them to the relevant emergency organisation. This monitoring programme allows Ofcom to identify any communications providers of concern and take action against any provider we have reasonable grounds to believe is failing to meet their obligations.

Ofcom has therefore extended this enforcement programme by four months from 13 June 2008 in order to continue this monitoring process. In addition, Ofcom will also continue its discussions with industry to identify whether there is a need for guidelines on best practice in relation to compliance with GC4.

End of update note

Under GC 4 Communications Providers are required to ensure that their customers can access Emergency Organisations by using emergency call numbers, including the “999” number. Communications Providers are also required, to the extent technically feasible, to make Caller Location Information for all 999 calls available to the Emergency Organisations handling those calls.

The provision of Caller Location Information by Communications Providers to Emergency Organisations is of vital importance, and Ofcom considers that it is technically feasible for Communications Providers that operate fixed networks to provide this information.

Ofcom does not currently have any evidence to suggest that fixed Communications Providers are not complying with their obligation to provide Caller Location Information, but is opening this monitoring and enforcement programme to formally request information from fixed Communications Providers on this matter.

Separately, Ofcom has also opened an investigation into Virgin Media’s compliance with GC 4 (see related items).

Case Leader: Sue Merrifield ( e-mail: sue.merrifield@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00975/12/07