Don't Forget The Other Data

By Mandy Blackburn, Operations Director at Roscom.

When you think about measuring data most people in our sector assume you are talking about mobile use. But we shouldn’t forget about data from home broadband. Ofcom haven’t and this is why they have included it in the latest changes to their regulations.

For most operators and many consumers any concerns over data usage focuses on mobile phones. Talk time and text are still important but, with so many apps using data and our love of browsing the internet, it is often the amount of data you get in a bundle which will sway consumers when choosing a provider.

Many don’t realise how data-hungry services on their home broadband – like downloading or streaming films – can also eat into their broadband allowance. Unless you have unlimited use, that can cause a fallout in any household. Even with unlimited there is the caveat of “reasonable use.”

The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has changed its obligations on providers to include the measurement of billing accuracy for data. Mobile providers have now to take this on board as part of their compliance.

What doesn’t yet seem to have hit the headlines, but falls under the same changes, is the new rules include broadband data. There the focus has traditionally been on availability and quality of service – for example line speed. For the big providers like BT, Virgin, Talk Talk and KCOM the new rules increase the pressure to ensure billing and metering is accurate and that they can prove it.

It’s not about itemising the bill for the consumer to check though. You have to make sure you are accurately measuring the usage and using technology, like ours at Roscom, to apply solutions to where the risk lies. To dig deep we are + or – one byte and can distinguish between unsolicited, solicited and also packaging for data. We cover the most complicated offerings and can even reverse engineer the broadband package to ensure accuracy and integrity of the product and the billing process. This puts you ahead of the curve to avoid punitive and reputation damaging fines for non-compliance.

The changes by Ofcom are part of the modernisation of the regulator’s General Conditions of Entitlement; the conditions applicable to all providers of electronic communications networks and services.

Of course it is easy to say the consumer should remember “caveat emptor” i.e. buyer beware, but Ofcom disagrees.

“Consumers cannot reasonably be expected to verify the accuracy of all charges made by any Communications Provider (CP) for services provided, especially where those charges are based on the extent of consumers’ usage of such services.” Ofcom Metering and Billing Direction 2017.

It’s all about protecting the consumer.

We already support mobile providers in complying with legislation using technology mapped across to Ofcom’s requirements. Our systems are calibrated and certified for accuracy by TÜV SÜD BABT (Metering and Billing Approval Body appointed by Ofcom).

Now Ofcom is including broadband data it is something we can support fixed line operators with too.

Mandy Blackburn, Operations Director at Roscom.