Ofcom pushes emergency roaming


Ofcom has proposed to introduce an emergency mobile roaming service in the UK as part of a range of telecoms industry consultations it has announced today.

Currently, mobile calls to emergency number 999 can only be connected if the caller’s own network is available in the area.

Ofcom claims it is working closely with mobile network operators and emergency services to develop a service where emergency calls automatically roam onto an available network if there is no coverage from a customer’s own network.

Pending the success of technical trials, Ofcom expects this service to be in place by the end of the year.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: “There are now more 999 calls made from mobiles than fixed line phones so it is vital that we and the mobile operators develop a roaming service to ensure people in need have full access to safety of life services.”

The proposals form part of Ofcom’s consultation on Access and Inclusion, published today. The consultation looks at the issues preventing take up of communications services and gaps in their geographic availability.

The report also examines the reasons some people don’t have broadband at home, from those who just don’t want it, those who can’t afford it, and those who can’t access it for geographic reasons.

Ofcom will consider these reasons in its work to help the Government develop its proposals for a Universal Service Commitment for broadband by 2012. It will also assess the network options that could be used to increase the availability and speed of broadband in the UK.

Ofcom will also conduct an assessment of the challenges disabled consumers face in accessing and using communications services.

Richards added: “It’s time to ensure that anyone who wants a decent basic broadband service can get one so we will need to develop a coherent response to the full range of barriers to broadband take-up in the UK.”