ANZIO Digital txtin emergncy

by Patricia Montgomery, LincsMag Writer.
Date: 01 March 2011

txtin emergncy - Lincolnshire Magazine -

A voluntary trial enabling people to text the emergency services should be made mandatory, Ofcom proposed last month (February 2011).

The proposal forms part of a wider consultation on changes to Ofcom’s regulations that need to reflect new European law that comes into effect on 25 May 2011.

Under the new European regulations, access to the emergency services for disabled people must be as close to that delivered to other consumers as the technology will allow. While the emergency text scheme does have limitations, such as taking longer to converse by text than by phone, it offers greater equivalence than current alternatives.

Emergency SMS trial

The trial has been running in the UK for over a year and is predominantly used by deaf and speech-impaired people who find it difficult to use the phone. The scheme has 14,500 registered users.

The trial has been successful with around one emergency text a day requiring attendance by the emergency services for situations such as strokes, heart attacks and childbirth.

Ofcom is proposing to safeguard the scheme by making it mandatory for mobile operators to provide it to registered users.

For further details about the scheme, visit the Emergency SMS website at:

Porting phone numbers and compensation scheme

The new European regulations also require providers to port phone numbers in one working day.

Last year, Ofcom concluded that UK mobile customers should be able to transfer their mobile number to a new provider within one working day and this will be effective from 11 April 2011.

Under the proposed new regulations, from 25 May 2011 this requirement will also apply to those customers, such as businesses, who want to port a large number of mobile numbers at one time.

For fixed porting, switching providers involves certain additional steps, such as measures to ensure that customers are protected from slamming (where a customer is switched to another provider without their permission). Providers will have to port fixed numbers within one working day but only after these steps have been completed.

Communications providers will also have to offer reasonable compensation to customers following any delay or abuse in porting their number.

Changes to contracts

The proposed new regulations would require communications providers to ensure that the initial contract a consumer signs up to (and any new contract following an upgrade) is not longer than 24 months, and that both consumers and businesses have the option to subscribe to a contract with a maximum duration of 12 months.

Many providers already offer such contract lengths to consumers. But by making these proposed requirements mandatory, consumers would continue to benefit from short contracts which promote competition and enable customers to switch providers more easily to benefit from better prices and services.

The consultation closes on 7 April 2011. The statement will be published before the new regulations come into force on 25 May 2011.

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