Coalface: June 2012

6 June 2012, CMA

Shock horror - Surely not!

Quote from ex G-Cloud boss Chris Chant on leaving office - 'The technology industry's mania for outsourcing has had a damaging impact on the government's ability to think strategically.

Outsourcing has eliminated a class of people who'd normally have set IT direction, and handed the responsibility to those supplying systems. Some big central government departments now need to recruit and train people capable of setting such strategy as these jobs have been sent out of house.

'For central government, skills have been lost - over the years some departments have outsourced their IT strategy. I find it difficult to image how anybody came to that decision. So those skills need to be replenished to help us work in this space,' Chant told The Reg.

Another problem, he reckons, is incumbent suppliers with vested interests: the responsibility of selecting the technology used in kit has been passed to these suppliers - thanks to outsourcing.

Well now, who'd have thought! Coalface recalls some ultra-clever guru presenting at a CMA seminar 15 years ago, asserting that outsourcing would save the world. Coalface challenged him (on much the same grounds as described above) and was openly laughed at for his pains. Where's the fairy with the magic wand who can inject some common sense to this outsourcing gravy train?

Hot tip!

Got this from Ofcom, so it must be true. Next time you receive spam on your mobile, forward it to 7726 (letters for SPAM). That's an address for an MoJ-ICO-Ofcom body that's been set up to facilitate industry action against the spammers. A consumer guide is expected 'shortly'. Hurrah!

And another!

Coalface's enthusiastic reader knows that the OTA2's monthly report on how Openreach is meeting its targets for such things as on-time delivery, etc, is from the same publishing stable as Marvel comics. This is the sort of thing.... But hold on to your hats! Ofcom has gripped the problem with all three hands and very soon now the OTA2 will begin publishing reports that not only can be understood without a PhD in statistical reporting, but are also meaningful to real live people. Watch this space.

It's all happening!

Openreach says that its ISP customers will be able to flog its 'up-to' 330Mbps fibre-to-the premises to their own punters as of 2 July.

However (comma) salivating punters keen to get their hands on super-duper broadband will most likely have to wait a bit longer, 'cos at present there are only 6 FTTP exchanges in the whole of Blighty.

However (another comma) it gets better next year, when Openreach begins offering FTTP-on-demand. Coalface thinks this means an on-demand replacement of the copper between cabinet and premises with fibre, although that seems (a) unlikely or, (b) even if it happens, a touch expensive.

Whatever, there seems no doubt that BT is firmly off the pot and is hell-bent on giving all of us as much bandwidth as we want and can afford. And that's a major shift. Seems a very long time ago when CMA began lobbying for 'broadband for all' and nobody would even listen.

Your next Condoc will be delivered by Pickfords

Good news for those who like to read Ofcom's latest wheezes while reclining in a tub of hot water. Of late the size of these things has grown to the point where you are barely past page 10 when pages 850 - 975 have gone all soggy.

But thanks to CMA's strident protests - that only those with an army of economists and lawyers can afford the time or the energy to plough through such mega-tomes - Ofcom is seriously considering producing plain language shorties, just for normal humans. There IS life after death.

Whatever happened to the next business comms market review?

You might well ask. Coalface's insider informer tipped him off that it was due by April. Or was it the end of May? Wrong! It is now due 'after the Jubilee'. No prizes for asking 'which Jubilee?' But Coalface understands that it will include discussions/decisions on the provision of dark fibre. Hold your breath.

National roaming... not yet completely dead. Keenies will already know that Orange and T-Mob have recently implemented, under their EverythingEverywhereAllThingsToAllMen umbrella, seamless roaming across their networks. Magic! We all understood that such a thing just wasn't feasible! Maybe it's true, then, that mandating national roaming is still 'under consideration' as part of Ofcom's deep thinking over responses to its latest condoc on the 4G auctions.

Come to that, wouldn't it be better, now that UK is several years behind the rest of the world, to kick all that 4G stuff into touch and wait for 5G? Think of the money the suppliers would save! They could reduce their rip-offs even further! Just a thought.

On silent calling

Ofcom hasn't gone quiet on silent/nuisance calling. Homeserve has been fined £750K recently and Empire and TalkTalk are 'in the pipeline' for a good smacking. Hurrah! Ofcom is now working with the afore-mentioned OTA2 to set up a formal blocking process with the aim of sorting out complaints rather faster than the current process of investigating back through the supply chain.

And - really good news - it's working with BT to resolve the issue of missing CLIs on 'International' calls. Ofcom's also encouraging the ICO to wake up and smell the bacon, and also has a regular chat with the TPS. BTW, if you register with TPS as a consumer, that's for life. But if you're a corporate, you need to re-register annually. Just thought I'd mention that. No charge.

Sadly, it's no longer a criminal offence to make a silent or nuisance call. It's just a breach of PECR. (PECR? Go look it up - sufficient unto the day is the info thereof!) But somehow Coalface can't quite imagine telling the next caller (Herro! May I pees tok wiv Meester Coalface!) that she's in breach of some obscure EU Directive and that the ICO's coming to get her.

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