Intelligent Solutions

The big 999 myth

Peter Farmer

9th April 2024

By Peter Farmer

Operate a voice service in the UK? Does it use telephone numbers? Then you have to provide access to 999/112. Oh, it’s over the top you say? Yep, still have to offer it. But your contract says it isn’t supported? Nice try – you still have to provide it. It’s inbound only? Heard that one before. 

Anyone that says anything different is stuck in the 1990s. 

But it gets worse. Your chosen network has an outage? Oh dear. You’re the one that contracted with the End User, so actually, you’re on the hook for that outage. It’s your responsibility as the provider of a Public Electronic Communications Service to connect calls to 999/112. Hanging off a single point of interconnection with a legacy network? 10% of your turnover is at risk in fines. As is your ability to trade if you’re a repeat offender and Ofcom revokes your General Authorisation. Doesn’t matter how well spun the “network” makes it by saying things like ‘extensively BT tested’ or ‘resilient’ – your customer, their right, your responsibility, your liability. 

Why are these rules so stringent? Funnily enough, because when someone has an axe-murderer at their door, they expect to be able to call the Police. If a customer in their shop is having a heart attack, they expect to be able to call an Ambulance. 

Unlike some other “networks” we will automatically connect a 999/112 call you throw at us, even on Day 1, or even Minute 1, of your time with us, and we’ll do it every time. It’ll just trigger shouty emails to us from the call handling authority if you are not onboarded correctly (which we’ll deal with). However, unlike other “networks” we also do not charge for onboarding. We do it for free. Why? Because if we’re fending off axe-murderers in our favourite shop, we want to be able to call the Fuzz. We only charge for address updates, and have a super-value all-you-can-eat option for that anyway. 

We also have a highly resilient distributed core, giving all our customers N+4 as standard. If you’re hanging off a nominated SBC magic box somewhere and don’t have resilience, that could be a costly mistake. Ofcom have been known to be trigger happy with fines for 999 (just ask Three or KCOM who were both heavily criticised for single points of failure by design). And that was before the new security regime which tightened things up in the area of resilience. 

Saving money by not activating 999/112 with other providers with a different commercial approach to emergency calling is a false economy with potentially costly results. If you fancy ticking this off your to-do list quickly and easily, give us a call.

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