Vonage lays down the smackdown for Skype's refusal to adhere to Ofcom rules
, an independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Last month, Ofcom introduced rules mandating access to emergency services (999 in the United Kingdom) for VoIP providers whose customers make calls that connect to the public switched service. The rules also specify that caller address information is to be made available to emergency services so that, as far as possible, emergency service operators know where a call is originating from.
Vonage points out that since it started offering services in the UK in 2005 that all Vonage
customers have been able to dial 999. Vonage also makes available caller address information (CallerID) to emergency operators.
According to Vonage, "Skype is choosing to flout the new rules by claiming that they do not apply and that they could be harmful to public safety. Skype
In and Skype Out services offer their customers calls that connect to the public switched service and are therefore caught by Ofcom's new rules." Vonage added, "Skype's statement that compliance could be harmful to public safety is in Vonage's view an abdication of social responsibility - especially when you consider that the telephone provided by Skype is designed to resemble a regular telephone. To deny consumers the ability to dial 999 is socially irresponsible and potentially very harmful."
Vincent Potier, Managing Director of Vonage UK comments: "This is an absurd position. How can refusing to allow customers to dial 999 in cases of emergency ever be in the interests of public safety? It is Skype that is causing harm to public safety, not Ofcom."
So who's right?