UK telecoms industry set for regulatory shake-up

by Ombudsman Services | Aug 20, 2018

Telecoms industry representatives gathered to discuss new rules described by the event host as the biggest change to the regulatory landscape in 15 years.

BT, O2, EE and Three were among the companies present at the session, which was hosted by Ombudsman Services: Communications.

The workshop explored forthcoming changes to the General Conditions of Entitlement – the regulatory rules that all communications providers must follow to operate in the UK.

A series of changes will take effect from 1 October 2018, covering complaints handling, billing, debt collection, vulnerable consumers and nuisance calls.

Jonathan Lenton, an ombudsman at Ombudsman Services: Communications, said: “There have been several significant changes to the general conditions since their introduction in 2003.

“What’s different this time is the sheer number of changes being implemented at the same time. Simultaneously, the whole format of the conditions is being altered.

“As such, this will be the biggest and most wide-ranging overnight regulatory change the industry has faced in 15 years.”

The workshop focused mainly on changes to the rules on complaint handling, which are designed to improve consumer awareness of – and access to – alternative dispute resolution (ADR). 

As one of two Ofcom-approved ADR providers in the sector, Ombudsman Services: Communications supports the changes but is keen to ensure they are implemented effectively and consistently for the benefit of consumers.  

“The workshop was an opportunity for companies in the sector to share knowledge and best practice, discuss any concerns and get a sense of the wider industry view of the changes”, added Mr Lenton.

“It’s clear there is a strong appetite within the industry to ensure all necessary steps are taken ahead of the 1 October implementation date.

“Providers of all sizes are working hard to understand the practical implications of the changes and ensure they do the right thing by consumers.

 “We will continue to liaise with Ofcom and providers as 1 October approaches.”

Ombudsman Services: Communications provides independent resolution of unresolved broadband, mobile and landline disputes between telecoms companies and consumers.

The scheme is operated by Ombudsman Services, a not-for-profit organisation that runs ombudsman schemes in a range of sectors.