Guidance on individual General Conditions

06 August 2012

On 19 September 2017, Ofcom published a statement about changes that we have decided to make to the general conditions of entitlement, in order to ensure the general conditions are up to date and reflect Ofcom’s current priorities. The revised general conditions will come into force on 1 October 2018, and the current conditions will be revoked on the same date.

GC1-21: This web page contains an explanation of the purpose of the General Conditions, a short history of their creation, and some general guidance about whom the General Conditions apply to. The guidance provided on this page is complementary to the guidance provided below on each specific General Condition.


GC1: General Access and Interconnection Obligations
GC2: Standardisation and Specified Interfaces
GC3: Proper and Effective Functioning of the Network
GC4: Emergency Call Numbers
GC5: Emergency Planning
GC6: Public Pay Telephones
GC7: Must-Carry Obligations
GC8: Operator Assistance, Directories and Directory Enquiry Facilities
GC9: Requirement to Offer Contracts with Minimum Terms
GC10: Transparency and Publication of Information
GC11: Metering and Billing
GC12: Itemised Bills
GC13: Non-Payment of Bills
GC14: Codes of Practice and Dispute Resolution
GC15: Special Measures for End-Users with Disabilities
GC16: Provision of Additional Facilities
GC17: Allocation, Adoption and Use of Telephone Numbers
GC18: Number Portability
GC19: Provision of Directory Information
GC20: Access to Numbers and Services
GC21: Quality of Service
GC22: Service Migrations and Home-moves
GC23: Sales and Marketing of Mobile Telephony Services


GC1: General Access and Interconnection Obligations


GC2: Standardisation and Specified Interfaces

The statement on the changes made to the General Conditions and Universal Service Conditions (PDF, 496.1 KB) in order to implement the revised EU framework, included the change to General Condition 2.2 adding CEPT to the list of standardised bodies.


GC3: Proper and Effective Functioning of the Network


GC4: Emergency Call Numbers

This is Ofcom's statement extending the application of General Condition 4 (Access to Emergency Services and Location Information) to certain categories of VoIP services. It sets out the requirements for VoIP providers in relation to (a) ensuring that their end users can contact the Emergency Services and (b) the provision of caller location information to the emergency services.


GC5: Emergency Planning


GC6: Public Pay Telephones


GC7: Must-Carry Obligations


GC8: Operator Assistance, Directories and Directory Enquiry Facilities


GC9: Requirement to Offer Contracts with Minimum Terms

Section 7 of this Statement (pages 35 - 47) sets out the changes made to General Condition 9 in May 2011 (PDF, 496.1 KB) to implement the revised EU framework. Included in Section 7 are Ofcom's conclusions on the requirements for:

  • new contractual information to be included;
  • subscribers to be able to withdraw from contracts penalty-free following a notice of contract modifications;
  • the maximum term of initial consumer contracts to be two years;
  • all users to be offered an option to contract for a maximum period of 12 months; and
  • contract termination conditions and procedures not to act as disincentives for end-users against switching their providers.

This enforcement bulletin entry relates to a monitoring and enforcement programme regarding compliance with General Condition 9 and the requirement to offer contracts with minimum terms. It sets out the key changes made to General Condition 9 in 2011 which communications providers have to comply with through their standard terms and conditions for consumers and other end-users.

General Condition 9.3 was modified in September 2011 (PDF, 38.9 KB) to prohibit Automatically Renewable Contracts (ARCs) (automatic contract rollovers) for fixed voice and broadband services for small business customers and residential consumers. This guidance covers three main areas: the implementation period by which the requirements of General Condition 9.3 come into effect, the requirements of 'Express Consent' as it is defined in General Condition 9.3, and particular issues around the provision prohibiting ARCs to small business customers.

This is industry guidance on unfair terms in contracts for communications services. It focuses principally on additional charges in consumer contracts, also referring to the obligation for communications providers to comply with General Condition 9 (contract terms)

Ofcom's guidance in relation to mid-contract price rises and how we are likely to apply General Condition 9.6 in relation to certain price increases (PDF, 49.6 KB) came into effect on 23 January 2014. In particular, on what Ofcom are likely to regard as price increases meeting the "material detriment" requirement and giving rise to the rights to notice and to terminate the relevant contract without penalty. The principles reflected in this guidance are transparency, comparability and certainty.


GC10: Transparency and Publication of Information

An enforcement bulletin entry from 2009 relates to an enforcement programme regarding compliance with General Condition C10 and General Condition 14.2. It sets out the requirement that any communications provider that provides call origination services to domestic and small business customers provides accurate and readily accessible information relating to charges for number translation services and premium rate services calls.


GC11: Metering and Billing

Our website contains information and useful links concerning the Ofcom Metering and Billing Scheme .

In particular, this page provides a link to Ofcom publication concerning the Metering and Billing Approval Scheme (PDF, 1.1 MB), which is aimed at enhancing consumer confidence in the accuracy of bills issued by communication providers. It also provides a link to the technical requirements under the Ofcom 2008 Metering and Billing Direction (PDF, 308.7 KB) that communications providers are required to meet in order to have their Total Metering and Billing systems approved by external Approval Bodies who have been appointed to operate the Scheme.


GC12: Itemised Bills


GC13: Non-Payment of Bills


GC14: Codes of Practice and Dispute Resolution

The annexes to General Condition 14 (PDF, 308.7 KB), which can be found at pages 33- 48, provide guidance on a number of elements of General Condition14 which deals with codes of practice and dispute resolution:

  • Annex 1 sets out guidelines for codes of practice for handling customer enquiries and complaints about Premium Rate Services.
  • Annex 2 sets out guidelines for codes of practice for the publication of prices of calls to Number Translation Services, 0870 calls and Personal Numbers.
  • Annex 3 is a code on the provision of consumer information, which that sets out the minimum requirements for all service providers when providing information about any feature and/or limitation in their service that differs from a publicly available telephony service.
  • Annex 4 is Ofcom's Approved Code of Practice for Complaints Handling, which sets out the minimum standards that Ofcom has set for communication providers in the handling of complaints made by domestic and small business customers about the provision of public electronic communications services.

Under General Condition 14.4 communications providers must have and comply with procedures that conform to the Ofcom Approved Code of Practice for Complaints Handling  when handling complaints made by domestic and small business customers. The Ofcom Approved Code of Practice and accompanying guidance includes requirements on transparency, accessibility and effectiveness.


GC15: Special Measures for End-Users with Disabilities

Ofcom considers the steps outlined here are required to satisfy the obligation on communications providers in General Condition 15 to publicise widely the services they are required to provide for disabled people. As a minimum, these include:

  • publishing clear and easy-to-find information on their own websites; and
  • ensuring that consumers are given accurate information when they enquire about relevant services

It also includes a link to a report containing the results of some 'mystery shopping' research commissioned by Ofcom, published in August 2010.

The statement on the implementation of the revised EU framework sets out that communications providers have an obligation to provide emergency SMS for deaf and speech-impaired people (PDF, 496.1 KB). It also explains, at paragraph 8.34, that Ofcom does not consider that users should be asked to submit proof of disability when registering for the scheme.


GC16: Provision of Additional Facilities

Industry guidance setting out a series of principles on the provision of Calling Line Identification Facilities (PDF, 141.7 KB) and the conveyance of calling and connected line identities when end-users make or receive a call.


GC17: Allocation, Adoption and Use of Telephone Numbers


GC18: Number Portability

Our website contains information and useful links concerning UK Number Portability.

This page provides links to Ofcom publications concerning number portability policy. It also contains links to external sites hosting industry owned and produced documentation concerning the process arrangements relating to the provision of number portability.


GC19: Provision of Directory Information


GC20: Access to Numbers and Services


GC21: Quality of Service

General Condition 21.1 requires communications providers to publish comparable, adequate and up-to-date quality of service information where Ofcom has directed them to do so. In January 2005, Ofcom issued a Direction under General Condition 21.1 requiring specified communications providers to provide certain quality of service information. However, in July 2009, Ofcom published a notification to withdraw that Direction. As any obligations ceased from the publication of the notification, communications providers caught by the Direction will not be obliged to audit or publish data going forward. More information can be found in our Quality of customer service review of the Topcomm Direction


GC22: Service Migrations and Home-moves

This statement (PDF, 1.0 MB) modified General Condition 22 and revoked General Condition 24, with effect from 20 September 2014. This modification gives effect to our decisions set out in that Statement as well as those in Consumer Switching, A statement and consultation on the processes for switching fixed voice and broadband providers on the Openreach copper network (PDF, 3.8 MB).

Following publication of our Statement, a number of CPs sought clarification from Ofcom concerning aspects of the implementation of the General Condition and its enforcement. On 7 April 2014 we published a document setting out our record of points raised by industry, (PDF, 40.6 KB)

Ofcom’s previous Guidelines in respect of General Condition 24: Sales and Marketing of Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services (PDF, 170.5 KB) continue to apply to the extent that the provisions of the revoked General Condition 24 are replicated in revised General Condition 22 and should be read on that basis. The Guidelines are available here:

The table below sets out where the provisions of repealed General Condition 24 are to be found in General Condition 22 and which paragraphs of the Guidelines remain applicable. (Paragraphs A6.3 to A6.6 setting out the Purpose of the Guidelines and Ofcom’s Disclaimer continue to apply).

GC24 sections

Where relevant, moved to (modified) GC22

Applicability of paragraphs of Guidelines in respect of GC24 to (modified) GC22

Scope
24.1 to 24.2

22.1 to 22.2 “Scope and effect”

N/A

Mis-selling prohibition
24.3

22.3 “Mis-selling Prohibition”

A6.9 to A6.10 continue to apply.

Responsibility
24.4

22.26 “Responsibility”

A6.11 to A6.15 continue to apply.

Publication of relevant obligations
24.5

22.29 “Publication of information”

A6.16 to A6.18 continue to apply.

Information at Point of sale
24.6

22.4 “Information at point of sale”

A6.19 to A6.21 continue to apply.

Post-sales information
24.7 to 24.8

22.10 to 22.13 “Notification letters”

A6.22 continues to apply.

A6.23 no longer applies.

A6.24 continues to apply.

Customer’s termination rights
24.9 to 24.10

22.5 to 22.6 “Customer’s termination rights”

A6.25 to A6.27 continue to apply.

Records retention
24.11

22.7 “Records retention”

A6.28 to A6.31 continue to apply.

Training
24.12

22.27 “Training”

A6.32 to A6.34 continue to apply.

Monitoring
24.13

22.28 “Monitoring”

A6.35 to A6.36 continue to apply.

Cancel Other process
24.14 to 24.18

Annex 1 to Condition 22
A1.2 “Cancel other”
22.15 “Reactive save”

A6.37 to A6.45 continue to apply.

Definitions
24.19

22.30 “Definitions”

 

GC23: Sales and Marketing of Mobile Telephony Services

Annex 7 (pages 140-150) of the statement on Protecting consumers from mis-selling of mobile telecommunications services is (PDF, 511.4 KB) is direct guidance on the obligations contained within General Condition 23.