BT fined $11,80,000 by Ofcom for delay in providing service to deaf users

BT ordered to pay $11,80,000 or £800,000  by Ofcom failing to provide service for deaf users

British Telecom (BT) one of the major telecom providers United Kingdom has been fined an $11,80,000 (£800,000)  by British Telecom regulator Ofcom for failing to provide adequate text to speech services for those with hearing or speech impairments after a delay of five months.

The Office of Communications commonly known as Ofcom, is the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the United Kingdom. Earlier Ofcom has instructed all landline and mobile phone operators that they have to create a tool that would allow a user to type what they wanted to say and have it spoken in a phone conversation by a human call centre operator. Ofcom wanted this service for the deaf users to be in place by April 18 last year.

The service also had to allows the hearing impaired user to read spoken replies as text, allowing a normal conversation to take place despite their disability.

This new feature can be accessed for voice-to-text on various devices, including PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Its main focus is to aims provide user a better experience of conversation using speech and text.

Last June, Ofcom had investigated that why the new system had not been launched on the required date. They found that the delay was due to problem with the sound quality of emergency calls, and had not caused financial harm to customers.

In respect to the deadline provided by Ofcom, BT failed to meet it after it found technical problems with the sound quality of emergency calls and missed providing the “Next Generation Text Service” to the deaf users.

However, Ofcom said it also regards the implementation of services for those who are hearing impaired as an important responsibility. An­noun­cing the decision, the watchdog pointed out that BT had been given 18 months to bring in the service, but had missed the deadline by five months.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer and content group director, commented: “The size of the penalty imposed on BT reflects the importance of providing an improved text relay service to its customers with hearing and speech impairments.”

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