Monthly Archives: August 2015

Aug 25

Labour MP calls for Ofcom to force BT split from Openreach

By admin | Advice Centre , News , Uncategorized

The Labour party has joined calls to separate BT from its infrastructure unit Openreach, with MP Chris Bryant backing the split.

Bryant, the shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, believes that Openreach should be fully separated from BT if the UK wants to meet its broadband targets. He believes that the current set-up, together with ineffective government broadband schemes, is harming both consumers and businesses.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Bryant said: “Although BT Openreach, which owns the existing copper network and delivers the rollout, is nominally at arm’s length from BT, it is right that Ofcom is now considering whether this provides an unfair advantage to BT and whether it should be split off in the interests of transparency and fair competition.”

“The situation is so bad that Ofcom’s review should work on the presumption that Openreach should be split from the rest of BT unless their review produces conclusive evidence to the contrary,” he added.

The shadow secretary also criticised the regulator for being too cautious, and said that it is about time the government revisited its “overly burdensome” appeals process.

He believes that “the system has failed to deliver”, as “a swathe of the country (is) still travelling at a snail’s pace digitally”.

Targets

The UK government is aiming for 95% superfast broadband coverage by 2017, with 100% covered by the end of the current parliament. To date, its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme has connected more than three million properties in areas that are not included in commercial deployments to fibre.

However, Bryant believes that the government and BT have failed to deliver the speeds and coverage that the UK needs to take advantage of the promised entertainment, economic and e-government benefits.

Harming competition

Bryant was especially critical of Openreach, which he believes has been given an unfair advantage by the BDUK, receiving almost all of the money on offer. BT’s rivals are able to access the Openreach network on a wholesale basis, but claim that the current structure is harming competition and that Openreach itself is too slow to fix faults and install new lines.

The Labour MP wants Openreach to be held accountable for its poor quality of service at the very least, including delays in repairs, missed appointments, and months of waiting to switch service providers.

What Ofcom says

Ofcom has admitted that it is contemplating the split, alongside other options, as part of its once-a-decade review of the UK communications market. The last of these reviews actually resulted in the creation of Openreach, back in 2005.

The regulator has previously faced calls from BT’s competitors Talk Talk and Sky to separate the provider from Openreach. The much-debated issue has caused tensions between the companies to escalate, with BT responding by criticising the ‘staggering hypocrisy’ of its rivals.

 

Aug 12

Councils say ‘no’ to 0845 numbers

By admin | Advice Centre , News , Uncategorized

Expensive Council numbers replaced

Rochdale Borough Council is replacing 13 of its most commonly used 0845 0845 to 0300numbers with more affordable 0300 options. Lancashire County Council has also made the transition, replacing its 0845s with local rate 0300s. Costing no more than an 01 or 02 call, 0300 numbers are a customer-friendly option, ideal for everyone’s pocket.

Alongside 0845 numbers proving typically more expensive to dial, they are regularly not included in many mobile minutes packages. This was an influential reason behind Rochdale Council’s decision as they say,

“Changing to 0300 numbers is undoubtedly the right thing for us to do and enables the people we serve to contact us via their mobile for the same cost as any other geographic number. These numbers are often also included in people’s mobile phone packages.”

Amongst the main service numbers to change for Rochdale are council tax, housing benefit, payments and bins. It is the intention of the council that other 0845 numbers will follow suit as will their 0844s. With the cost of a typical 0300 call costing just 1p-9p from a landline and 10p – 40p from mobiles or even included in most free minutes packages, this move will certainly mean smiles all round.

Lancashire County Council also on 0300 map

Despite official Ofcom legislation regarding the use of 0845s not coming into play until 1st July 2015, Lancashire County Council decided to change to 0300 back in March 2015. Leader of the County Council, County Councillor Jennifer Mein highlights the customer-focussed decision behind their decision and the ease with which the telecom changes can be made, as she comments,

“Ensuring that the existing numbers continue to work means that we can introduce the new numbers without inconveniencing anyone and can minimise the costs of the change.”

Moving is made easy

0300 numbersThe move from 0845 to the cheaper 0300 is a pretty straight-forward process and like others choosing to make the change it can be done at a rate that suits the individual organisation. Initial stages will still allow callers to use the old 0845 numbers, being greeted with a short information message about the cheaper alternative 0300 which are in place. However, those who wish to continue their call can do with no need to redial. The 0845 numbers will gradually be phased out of operation – ensuring no downtime along the way.

Nationwide Initiative

Designated only for non-for-profit and charitable organisations 0300 numbers are a sector-specific initiative – strengthening the genuine nature of the concern using them. In addition, charged at no more than a regular local rate call, 0300 provide a point of contact which is easy on consumers’ pockets, too. If you are unsure whether your organisation qualifies for an 0300 or you are looking for a customer-friendly option for your callers please ask for details.