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Own-initiative monitoring and enforcement programme in respect of compliance with General Condition 11.4

08 Mawrth 2016

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative monitoring and enforcement programme
Investigation against: All Communications Providers (CPs) offering Publically Available Telephone Services and with a Relevant Turnover exceeding £40 million per year in those services.
Case opened: 9 March 2015
Case closed: 8 March 2016
Issue: Compliance with the requirements of General Condition 11.4 requiring CPs to obtain approval of their metering and billing systems in compliance with the Ofcom Metering and Billing Direction 2014 (the New Direction). 
Relevant instrument: General Condition 11.4 of the General Conditions of Entitlement (GC 11.).

Ofcom is today announcing the closure of the GC11.4 monitoring and enforcement programme that was opened in March 2015.

The enforcement programme was opened to monitor CPs’ compliance with General Condition 11.4 of the General Conditions of Entitlement (GC 11.4). The New Direction set out changes to the approval process that CPs needed to follow in order to have their metering and billing systems approved. CPs covered by the previous Direction had to apply for approval under the New Direction to third party assessors called Approval Bodies (ABs) within six months from the date on which the modification to GC11 came into force (30 September 2014).

CPs are required to comply with any directions made by the AB in respect of such approval. This obligation applies in respect of metering and billing systems, whether already in use or newly installed. Approval under GC11.4 is defined by reference to the New Direction.

Our key achievements under this programme include:

  • Ensuring CP compliance with the rules which came into force in September 2014
  • Ensuring CPs comply with the timescales for the Approval process set out in the Metering and Billing Direction (GC11.4).
  • Identifying risks that could affect a CPs' compliance with GC11.4

Since the new rules into force in September 2014, we have engaged with the ABs and CPs to make them aware of changes to the approval process and how to comply with the relevant rules, in particular, the importance of adhering to the new timescales for applying to have their billing systems approved.

Although we are closing our formal monitoring and enforcement programme, ensuring CPs apply to an Approval Body for approval of their metering and billing systems and comply with the requirements under GC11.4 remains a priority for Ofcom. We will continue to monitor complaints about billing. Where we identify suspected non-compliance with the rules, we will not hesitate to open individual investigations, where appropriate, details of which would be published on the Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin.

Update note: 8 September 2015

Ofcom has decided to extend this Programme for a further six months. This will enable us to continue to monitor that CPs are taking all reasonable steps to achieve compliance with the new Direction within six months of applying to an Approval Body for approval of their metering and billing systems (as set out in paragraph 3.3.1 of the Direction).  If any formal enforcement action is taken as a result of the work undertaken in this programme, we will publish separate Bulletin entries as appropriate.

End of update note

Ofcom has commenced a monitoring and enforcement programme to assess the compliance of communication providers (CPs) with General Condition 11.4 of the General Conditions of Entitlement (GC 11.4).

On 31 July 2014, Ofcom published the statement on the ‘Review of the Metering and Billing Direction’.  This statement withdrew a previous Direction that had been in place since 2008 and replaced it with the New Direction.  On 30 September Ofcom issued a statement making the necessary changes to GC 11 to ensure that it refers to the New Direction.

The July statement, amongst other things, set out changes to the approval process that CPs need to follow in order to have their metering and billing systems approved.  CPs covered by the previous Direction will now have to apply for approval under the new Direction to third party assessors called approval bodies (ABs) within six months from the date on which the modification to GC11 came into force (30 September 2014).

Ofcom is now launching a monitoring and enforcement programme to assess CPs' compliance with the provisions in GC11.4 and determine whether any further action, including enforcement, is required in the event of non-compliance.

Under GC11.4 CPs are required to apply to an AB for Approval of their metering and billing system, in respect of the Publicly Available Telephone Services they provide and any other Electronic Communications Services they provide as shall be agreed between the CP and the AB. CPs shall obtain Approval for these services as soon as is practicable. CPs are required to comply with any directions made by the AB in respect of such Approval. This obligation applies in respect of metering and billing Systems, whether already in use or newly installed. Approval under GC11.4 is defined by reference to the New Direction.

Our objectives for this monitoring and enforcement programme are:

  • To ensure that CPs comply with the timescales for the Approval process set out in the Metering and Billing Direction (GC11.4).
  • To identify any risks that may affect a CPs' compliance with GC11.4
  • To ensure consumer confidence in the accuracy of their bills is maintained.

Ofcom may initiate separate investigations of named providers. Where we do so, these will be announced via our Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin. Alternatively, we may move directly under this programme to take enforcement action where, for example, Ofcom has reasonable grounds for believing that a CP is contravening GC11.4. In that case, Ofcom will announce its action via an update to this bulletin entry.

Case Leader: Stephen Green (email: Stephen.Green@ofcom.org.uk )
Case Reference: CW/01155/03/15