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Our regulatory obligations

BT and all other UK communications providers are regulated under Ofcom’s General Conditions of Entitlement. The General Conditions were first introduced in July 2003 under the Communications Act, and these regulations apply to anyone who provides an electronic communication service or an electronic communications network.

As of 1 October 2018, a new and revised set of conditions came into force, consolidating all previous amendments made by Ofcom and adding some new obligations. The General Conditions are arranged in three sections: Part A contains network functioning conditions; Part B contains numbering and other technical conditions; and Part C contains consumer protection conditions. Below we have set out how these conditions apply to the services and products provided by BT.

A1 - General network access and interconnection obligations

In order to ensure that our customers can communicate with anyone we interconnect our networks with other communications providers’ networks. This condition requires all providers of public electronic communications networks to negotiate interconnection agreements with other network providers on request and requires all communications providers to respect the confidentiality of information obtained in connection with network access negotiations.

A2 - Standards and specifications

To allow us to connect our customers with those on other networks there needs to be a degree of standardisation between the networks. This condition ensures that all communications providers adopt common technical standards by requiring them to comply with any compulsory EU standards and specifications and take account of other European and international standards and specifications.

A3 - Availability of services and access to emergency services

It’s important to our customers that they can use their services when required and that they have access to the emergency services if needed. We work hard to ensure our network is maintained and resilient. We provide calls to emergency organisations free of charge and to make caller location information available to emergency organisations where technically feasible.

A4 - Emergency planning

Sometimes circumstances beyond our control can impact our network. In such cases we have plans in place and work with emergency organisations and other public authorities to ensure the provision or rapid restoration of networks and services in the event of a disaster.

A5 - Must carry obligations

As a broadcaster we want our customers to have access to the best content, including public service broadcasting. This condition provides Ofcom with a power to direct that broadcasting network providers must carry certain public service broadcasting (PSB) television channels.

B1 - Allocation, adoption and use of telephone numbers

BT strives to ensure that the numbers allocated to it by Ofcom are used efficiently and in line with the National Telephone Numbering Plan as set out by Ofcom.

B2 - Directory information

BT provides directories for use by its customers and the general public and updates them annually, as well as providing directory enquiry services to the general public. To do so we require other communications providers to provide us with directory information about their numbers, and we reciprocate by providing our information to those that require it. This condition requires all communications providers to follow this process.

B3 - Number portability

It’s important that customers can switch provider without having to change their number. BT follows the conditions set out by Ofcom in order to ensure this process is done smoothly and customers aren’t inconvenienced.

B4 - Access to numbers and services

BT ensures that its customers are able to access the full range of telephone numbers and services and only blocks access to telephone numbers where instructed to do so by Ofcom for reasons of fraud or misuse. 

C1 - Contract Requirements

Contracts for BT’s services must set out certain information and be fair to all customers. We must specify certain key information when entering into contracts and ensure customers can terminate their contract with BT and switch to another provider without difficulty. There are requirements about contract duration, notification of changes to terms and giving customers the right to exit without penalty in certain circumstances.

C2 - Information publication and transparency requirements

We must provide our customers with adequate and up-to-date information to allow them to easily compare the offers and services available in the market. This includes information on our prices, tariffs, terms and conditions, and any charges applicable if a customer decides to terminate their contract. We also need to clearly set out the charges that apply to premium rate services, non-geographic numbers and personal numbers, and explain how premium rate services work. This explanation can be found on our customer websites.

C3 - Billing requirements

Our customers should only pay for the services they receive, and they need to be able to control how much they spend on the usage of voice calls and data services through access to billing information. Where bills are unpaid, we should treat customers fairly and give warning ahead of disconnection. We must publish the measures we take to effect payment, and our billing systems must be approved by an Approvals Body (BABT), our policy can be seen on our customer websites.

C4 - Complaints handling and dispute resolution

At BT, our complaints procedure is accessible to all customers, and we have a Complaints Code of Practice which sets out how we deal with complaints. This ensures that we identify and record complaints, inform customers how their complaint will be dealt with, and set out the resolution clearly. We are also members of an alternative dispute scheme, Ombudsman Services: Communications, where customers can take a complaint if they remain unhappy with the way we have dealt with things. We tell customers about this scheme on the BT, EE and Plusnet bills.

You can view our Complaints Codes of Practice on our customer websites.

C5 - Measures to meet the needs of vulnerable consumers and end-users with disabilities

At BT we’re committed to treating all our customers fairly and with respect, ensuring we always consider the specific needs of our customers with disabilities and/or whose circumstances may make them vulnerable – due to circumstances such as age, physical or learning disability, physical or mental illness, low literacy, communications difficulties or changes in circumstances such as bereavement. In line with our obligations, we provide access to free Directory Enquiries for those with visual impairment, a Text Relay service for those with hearing impairment, a Priority Fault Repair service for those who qualify, third party bill management and bills and contracts in accessible formats. In addition we have a wealth of information and advice on how we can help customers get the most out of the products and services we offer, whether it’s helping to keep in touch with friends and family, keeping on top of bills or watching the latest blockbusters. We publish BT’s Vulnerability Policy at the ‘BT Including You’ site. EE’s and Plusnet’s policies can also be viewed on their customer websites.

C6 - Calling line identification facilities

Wherever technically possible and economically viable, we will provide customers with the facility to identify the person calling them, allowing people to decide whether to pick up the phone or let it go to an answering service. Where technically feasible, we will prevent calls being connected where no diallable Calling Line Identification is provided (except for calls to emergency services, which will always be connected).

C7 - Switching

Sometimes, customers tell us they’ve been transferred to another phone company without their knowledge or consent - a practice known as mis-selling or slamming. This General Condition prohibits underhand sales and marketing activities, and applies to domestic and small business landline and broadband customers.

At BT, we have effective systems in place to ensure customers can easily change their service when they need to. This applies to landline and broadband services for customers deciding to leave BT for another communications provider, those moving home, or those who are simply changing the services they receive from us. We will always give accurate information about the services to be provided and that we have the customer’s consent to make any changes. Where a customer is switching away from us, they will receive a letter which clearly sets out the details of the switch, any early termination charges due and the impact of the switch on any remaining products and services. Customers can switch simply by placing an order with a new provider; they don’t have to contact the losing provider if they don’t want to.

We must publish a copy of this General Condition on our customer website.

C8 - Sales and marketing of mobile communications services

We must observe certain obligations when selling and marketing our mobile call and text services to domestic and small business customers, whether selling directly or via third party retailers. Customers must be given accurate and comprehensive information about their contracts at point of sale, and records of all sales must be retained. We also need to ensure we give our people (including those working for third party retailers) the right training to make sure our customers are sold the right products and know exactly what they’re buying – including the details of any sales incentive offers. A summary of this General Condition is available on our customer website.