Landline providers will be banned from charging for caller display facilities from 1 October 2018. The change is one of a number being made by Ofcom as it tweaks some of its regulations in order to provide more protection for consumers. Ofcom said caller display features can help people screen nuisance calls.
Some providers, such as TalkTalk and Sky, offer the service to their landline customers at no extra cost but BT charges ?1.75 a month and Virgin Media ?2.25 a month.
As well as having to provide the service free of charge, providers will also need to ensure that the numbers being displayed are valid, dialable and uniquely identify the caller.
They will also be required to identify and block calls with invalid or non-dialable numbers.
Other changes being introduced by Ofcom next year include the requirement for all communications providers to offer disabled customers access to priority fault repair, third party bill management and accessible bills.
These facilities are already in place for landline and mobile services but will be extended to cover broadband.
Firms must also have clear policies in place for identifying vulnerable customers to ensure they are treated fairly and appropriately.
Ofcom’s examples of vulnerable customers include people with learning or communication difficulties and those suffering physical or mental illness or bereavement.
Rules on billing accuracy, which currently cover voice call services, are being extended to include broadband and complaints handling rules are being strengthened in a bid to speed up the complaints process for consumers.
Separately, Ofcom is consulting on its powers to withdraw telephone numbers if they are misused, for example to cause harm or nuisance, or to engage in fraud.
It is also looking at which public bodies can request communications services to be restored in the event of a disaster and how providers should handle cancellation requests from customers.
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First Utility has made its broadband packages available to people who aren’t already an energy customer. The company launched a range of broadband deals earlier in the year for existing customers, but has now opened them up to the wider public. Basic up to 17Mbps broadband is ?18.99 a month with First Utility, including line rental.
Until 28 July, the up to 38Mbps package will cost ?27.99 a month (usually ?31.99) and up to 76Mbps is ?34.99. All First Utility’s broadband packages have an 18-month minimum term and are free from any kind of upfront charges. They come with pay as you go calls, although there is the option to add evening and weekend, anytime or international call packages.
For a limited time, all three plans also come with a six-month subscription to DisneyLife, Disney’s own streaming service that gives you access to hundreds of movies, TV box sets, music and books. First Utility says it will not increase the monthly charge to its customers at the end of their minimum contract term.
Back in March1, First Utility said it was targeting broadband customers who are paying over the odds because they are out of contract with their provider. The company’s UK managing director, Ed Kamm, said: “The parallels between the energy and telecoms markets are striking, with large swathes of households paying far too much for both services.
“We’ve proven that our approach of putting the customer in control results in more money in their pockets and we believe we can do the same with broadband.
“We’ve been successful in unsettling the Big Six in energy and our next target is the Big Four in broadband.”
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We won’t share your postcode with anyone.
More than ?11m is to be spent to set up wireless broadband in rural parts of Shropshire with the help of a Worcester business. Connecting Shropshire has named Airband Community Internet as the delivery partner for the next phase of the county council’s superfast broadband programme. The council has said the work will take three years to complete and the new transmitters will reach 14,000 homes and businesses.
Airband will be deploying wireless broadband, which works by sending a signal from a transmitter on a mast, to a receiver attached to the property. A cable is then run into the building allowing the end-user to access the internet in the same way as any other broadband connection. Redmond Peel, managing director of Airband, said: “We are delighted to have won the contract to deploy our fixed wireless network in Shropshire.
“Knowing how essential high-speed broadband is, we are looking forward to working with local residents and businesses to provide fast and reliable Internet connections.
“Our experience of building masts to deploy wireless broadband services in the Midlands, Wales, Dartmoor and Exmoor has given us extensive insight into dealing with the geographical challenges that we will come across in Shropshire.”
Nic Laurens, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said: “I am delighted that we have secured a technology partner that can deliver superfast broadband to some of the most rural parts of the county.
“When this contract is completed, we expect 98 per cent of premises in the council area to have access to superfast broadband.”