Generally speaking Ofcom (standing for the Office of Communication) regulates communication systems, whether it is the phone or internet system, TV, radio, or on-demand services (such as BBC iPlayer), postal services and radio channels (known on its website as the radio spectrum). It is a government approved regulatory body which also deals with competition issues.
The details below concentrate on telecommunications issues, rather than looking into the TV, radio and other systems of communications, even though the link between TV systems and internet systems has become stronger in recent years.
Should you wish to complain about the internet services such as your home broadband or mobile broadband provider, Ofcom is the place to phone or write to. They can investigate how the product was sold or how the contract was written. They can also deal with nuisance phone calls and nuisance texts. They however do not deal with complaints regarding individual websites, with the exception of YouTube.
What does Ofcom actually do, then?
They can provide information for the codes of practice for the telecoms and broadband industry, including how fixed lines are accessed and how to apply for a new telephone number. This is the kind of information which is useful for the telecom companies themselves, rather than individual consumers. The data which is collects may be from third parties.
Should you wish to make a Freedom of Information request regarding telecommunications they need to reply with the information within 20 days. Although this is usually free they may charge you if you require a hard copy of the information and there is an unexpectedly large amount to be processed. They also make sure bills, whether sent through the post or sent via email, are written in plain English.
One of the difficulties that Ofcom changed was how clearly phone charges should be stated on bills. The public was informed of the changes by a campaign called “UK Calling”. This made sure that the caller knew if that an access charge (charges regarding the call itself) or a service charge (paying for an operator) were needed.
Before 2003 the telecommunications that were now overseen by Ofcom where regulated by Oftel. Other bodies which concentrated on the other areas of communication, such as the Broadcasting Standards Commission were merged into Ofcom.
As a part of the customer service we offer here at Number Supermarket, we keep all customer abreast of what is happening with telecoms legislation. If you buy your 0330 number for your business, get an 0345 for personal use, purchase an 0333 for your company, or buy any 03 or 08 number, we will do our best to make sure you’re up to date with whatever changes are happening in the telecommunications industry.
It is important that all telecommunication companies listen to Ofcom and abide by their decisions. In order to save confusion it is a good idea to read the research they have created on telecommunications issues.