Ofcom had begun an investigation into alleged mis-selling of fixed-line phone services by TalkTalk following complaints from the public.
It is Ofcom’s second inquiry into TalkTalk this year. This time Ofcom has given a month to TalkTalk to comply with Ofcom rules after finding that it had wrongly issued customers with bills for services that had been cancelled.
According to Ofcom, the new investigation focused on complaints by people who claim to have been mis-sold a fixed-line telephone service by TalkTalk or have had their service switched to TalkTalk without their consent.
According to TalkTalk, it was co-operating with Ofcom’s new investigation. The company continually reviews their sales processes and takes any potential issues of mis-selling extremely seriously.
Ofcom has slapped cap on mobile call termination fees, after deciding there is little chance of competition bringing the charges down naturally.
UK comms regulator Ofcom has been controlling the amount that operators can charge for terminating calls ever since the initial investigation by Ofcom’s predecessor, Oftel, won an appeal against such control in 2003. Operators charge for calls coming into their networks, and without capping they would be at liberty to charge as much as they wished. The end-customer tends to blame their own operator for the high cost of the call, as that’s all they see on their bill.
In June last year Ofcom extended their control for another year, capping Vodafone and O2 at 5.63 pence per minute, with T-Mobile and Orange being allowed to charge 6.31 pence due to the higher cost of their spectrum (1800MHz). The caps only applied to 2G services, and the operator 3 was exempted for that reason, as well as being too small to worry about.
The latest proposal from Ofcom is that all termination charges should be capped at 5.3 pence per minute by 2011, when the regulator will look again at the whole situation.
Responses to the proposal will be accepted until November 22, with the final regulation being published early in 2007.
During 2007 Offcom will also be looking at the whole question of SMS termination fees, which it hasn’t looked at before. The SMS business is was worth £2.1bn in 2005, according to Ofcom, which is a lot of messages at an average of 6.3 pence per message.
With the French regulator already imposing a cap on SMS termination, and Europe making noises about doing something, Ofcom needs to be looking at the issue.
While competition has driven down prices for customers, regulation is still very necessary to keep the hidden costs of communications from getting out of hand.