Oftel launches efficiency drive

Telecoms watchdog Oftel has unveiled a plan to improve its performance, following vociferous criticism over the slow roll-out of...

Telecoms watchdog Oftel has unveiled a plan to improve its performance, following vociferous criticism over the slow roll-out of broadband across the UK.

Oftel's four-point plan is designed to reduce formal consultation time and to promote the influence of special interest groups. Measures include the establishment of a forum where representatives from both the telecoms industry and consumer organisations can discuss current issues and forthcoming policy reviews.

"Broadband will be one of the issues for the new Oftel forum. Our remit is to help in the provisioning of broadband and network services that concern both the industry and ordinary consumers," confirmed a spokesman.

The most radical proposal is to create "citizens' juries" to engage the public more directly in the decision-making process of the watchdog.

"Our proposals will allow more organisations to play a part in Oftel's decision making and increase the speed and effectiveness of our consultation. It will also supplement our greatly increased programme of market research," said Chris Kenny, director of regulatory policy.

Piers Mummery, vice president of telecoms provider Call Sciences, welcomed the move but added, "Oftel has had initiatives in the past to improve its consultation process, but it still needs to use the powers that it already has with more authority."

Mark Smith, deputy director general of the Communications Management Association said, "We welcome the Oftel announcement as the initiative will help to raise the concerns of consumers and business and is a step in the right direction."

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