Sunday, 17 November 2013


I have asked you before about this - it seems O2 are offering a
service which uses 07 numbers and allows calls to go to PCs which are
connected without the means of wireless telegraphy, contrary to the
national numbering plan and as such contrary to the general conditions
and ultimately the Telecommunications Act.

I had assumed that you had relaxed the rules in the numbering plan to
allow this, and asked about such relaxation of the rules, but still
have had no reply from OFCOM on this.

So, how exactly do I ask OFCOM, formally, and on the record, to explain...

1. Have OFCOM relaxed the rules for use of 07 numbering to allow O2's
TU Go service?

2. If so, then how exactly, and where is this published. We'd like to
do the same and need to know exactly how the rules now work.

3. If not, then how exactly are O2 offering this service without
losing their licence to operate a telco, exactly, as we would like to
do the same and want to know exactly how one does this?

I look forward to your formal reply which I can publish.

-- Adrian.

It is worth explaining this in slightly more detail. OFCOM have rules which they are allowed to impose because of the Telecommunications Act. They have rules for 07 mobile numbers which require that every call must involve wireless telegraphy to a device that can be used while mobile.

You can vaguely understand the logic of this rule when calls to mobiles were very expense as the mobile operators had the cost of building a mobile network. If not, then the mobile operators could make the revenue for a mobile call without the costs, a sort of back-door premium rate service.

The idea is obsolete now, as mobile calls are so much cheaper now, but even when it seemed like a good idea it was very flawed.
  • Many mobile operators have their call centres within their mobile range, and so they make money for a terminating a mobile call without the costs. This is still the case now, and is against OFCOM rules, but OFCOM do nothing.
  • Mobile calls can go to voicemail - indeed this is not only on by default on most networks but hard to turn off. This gets them revenue for the call, and (in many cases) revenue when someone picks up the voicemail (especially if picked up from a landline), and for a further call that is often needed. Again, this is against OFCOM rules, and OFCOM do nothing.
  • Call diversion to any non mobile gets them revenue for the incoming call and the diverting leg, and again is against OFCOM rules, and OFCOM do nothing.
  • And now, O2 are routing calls and texts to PCs that may not be even on wifi, so again breaking OFCOM rules.
Ideally OFCOM should scrap the rule now - it is not really needed now, it is not helping, being ignored by OFCOM in relation to larger telcos, and stifles innovation. After all the O2 service is quite cool (even if A&A were doing it way before O2).

What is odd is that OFCOM simply don't answer the questions when you ask. We have asked how the existing operators are allowed to do voicemail and call divert - no answer. We have asked how O2 run Tu Go, no answer. OFCOM seem allowed to ignore their own rules, or rather, enforce them against some operators and not others, but then are allowed to completely ignore inconvenient questions on the matter.


  1. Vodafone are doing the same now.

    It seems if you're big enough, the rules don't matter.

  2. I wish it was easier to port numbers, without shutting down the line the number is on.

  3. Good luck with this. I echo Tony's comment - needs to be fixed.

  4. Can you make FoI requests to a Statutory Corporation? If so, I could think of some appropriate questions...

  5. Ah, yes you can......


  6. You should talk to your MP about this as well.

  7. This vaguely suggests that you can get a court to make a "mandatory order" (previously known as a "writ of mandamus") to force Ofcom to enforce rules (although an entirely different rule).

  8. O2? Would that be the same O2 that refuse to deliver calls to A+A 07xxx numbers purely on the grounds that the A+A website says you they longer sell voice SIMs, making the number I bought utterly useless for my purposes? F***ing hypocrites, and Ofcom too for sanctioning it.

  9. Is this not an example of a risk-based approach to dealing with regulation? If the provider considers that the harm which justifies the imposition of the regulation is not made out by the action in question — or, perhaps more importantly, that not many people are going to complain, and that those to which they would complain are unlikely to be interested — it takes a punt.

    (Time for an in-house regulatory lawyer (although that probably wouldn't come cheaply)?)

    1. Or, there's the option of treating the cost of sanctions for breaching regulations as part of the "cost of doing business", particularly where the profit gained from breaching the regulations is greater than the sanctions imposed - clearly how Microsoft treat anti-trust, and similar, regulations worldwide.