Revised statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service
- Start: 17 December 2007
- Status: Statement published
- End: 01 February 2008
Ofcom is required, under section 131 of the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”), to prepare and publish a statement of its general policy with respect to its legal powers to deal with persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or electronic communications services.
In this context, on 1 March 2006, Ofcom published an updated Statement of Policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service (the “2006 Persistent Misuse Statement”).
The Act allows Ofcom to revise its statement on persistent misuse from time to time as it thinks fit. On 17 December 2007, Ofcom published a consultation on its proposed revisions to the 2006 Persistent Misuse Statement. The consultation closed on 1 February 2008. This document sets out Ofcom’s consideration of consultation responses received and its revised statement pursuant to section 131 of the Act in light of those considerations (the “revised Persistent Misuse Statement”). The revised Persistent Misuse Statement will replace the version published in 2006.
The 2006 Persistent Misuse Statement set out the factors that Ofcom would take into account when deciding whether or not to take action in relation to abandoned calls, including silent calls which had been identified as a major cause of annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety for telephone users. An ‘abandoned call’ is one where a connection is made with a live individual and then terminated. This can occur where call centres use automated diallers (commonly described as automated calling systems or “ACS”) to call a number of persons but there are not enough live agents to deal with calls that are answered. A type of abandoned call is a silent call, where a person hears nothing on the end of the line on answering the phone and has no means of establishing whether anyone is at the other end.
- limiting abandoned calls to a rate not exceeding three per cent of all live calls made on each individual campaign over a 24 hour period;
- playing a brief information message giving details about any call answered before an agent is available;
- providing calling line identification (CLI) information on outbound calls, so that consumers are able to make a return call;
- a 72-hour period before a telephone number receiving an abandoned call may be called again without the guaranteed presence of an agent; and
- unanswered calls must ring for a minimum of 15 seconds.
Amendment published 30|10|09
Following preliminary research carried out by Ofcom and representations received from industry, Ofcom has found some evidence that the timing of when an information message needs to be played in the event of an abandoned call in its present form may diminish the effectiveness of Answer Machine Detection technology.
- whether there are any parts of the Statement that could be expressed more clearly; and
- whether there are further refinements to the Statement that could secure a reduction in harm to consumers, which also considers the practical operations of dialler technology.
The report was commissioned by Ofcom in May 2009 as part of its work on silent and abandoned calls. The report’s findings formed part of the preliminary research behind the Amendment to the statement entitled Revised statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service set out above. Please note that some of the information within the report has been redacted as it contains confidential information relating to specific businesses.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) wrote to Ofcom on two occasions in 2009 regarding its concerns about the Revised statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service published on 10 September 2008. As noted in the two documents below, the CBI expressed concerns about the business impact of Ofcom stated policy regarding abandoned and silent calls.
Statement: Revised statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service
Amendment to the statement entitled Revised statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service – published 10 September 2008
Consultation: Revised statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service
Final Report on Research into the Accuracy of Answer Machine Detection Technology by VERINT CONSULTING
Business concerns about Ofcom's revised policy statement on silent and abandoned calls - CBI briefing August 2009