On 12 December 2012, Ofcom published its Consultation, "Emergency call handling agent performance" ('the Consultation') where we set out the performance standards we would expect to see being met by CPs' respective CHAs. The Consultation set out recommendations for:
- Putting in place procedures and business practices that are commensurate with the critical nature of emergency call handling;
- Maintaining services, such that in any given calendar month service availability meets 99.999%;
- Providing sufficient network, system and human resources such that, in any 24-hour period, 95% of incoming calls wait less than five seconds before being answered;
- Conducting appropriate risk and business continuity assessments that consider how best to maintain continuity of service during significant unexpected events which place substantial pressure on call handling activities;
- Gathering and making available call volume and waiting time data, measured on a 15 minute basis, as well as reporting to Ofcom any outage of the service in accordance with our existing network incident reporting guidelines.
In the Consultation, Ofcom proposed documenting these standards in order to record existing industry best practice. We did not intend to alter CPs' existing (and ongoing) duties under GC4, or to introduce new regulatory obligations for CPs. Further, our proposals were not intended to supersede the existing operational arrangements that exist between the CHAs and EAs, as documented in the Code of Practice for the Public Emergency Call Service between Communications Providers and the Emergency Services Code of Practice" (the "PECS Code"). The purpose of setting out the standards is to make clear the matters that Ofcom would expect CPs to address if they use a CHA to meet their obligations under GC4. If these matters are not addressed, Ofcom may then need to consider whether or not formal intervention is required (for example, amending GC4).
Ofcom received consultation responses from six organisations . Having carefully considered those responses (detailed further in Section 4), Ofcom has decided that it is appropriate to issue this Statement. We conclude that the recommendations set out above are appropriate, albeit with slight amendments to the wording of the criteria and expectations where, taking into account the views of respondents, further clarity was considered helpful.