News : BT Fined Over Delay in Service for Deaf Users
London, UK, March 17, 2015 -- BT has been fined by the communications watchdog after delays launching a text-to-speech service designed to help those with hearing or speech impairments.
Ofcom gave all landline and mobile phone operators until April 18 last year 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.
The service also had to allow the user to read spoken replies as text, allowing a normal conversation to take place despite their disability.
It was to be accessible via a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.
But BT failed to finish its "Next Generation Text Service" on time and did not have it running until September, claiming that there were issues with the sound quality of emergency calls.
Now Ofcom has fined BT and pointed out that it had had 18 months notice of the need to develop the system.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer and content group director, said: "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.
"However, BT has invested significantly in launching the new text relay service, which allows users to have conversations more easily and fluently and on new devices. We welcome the fact the service is now operating successfully."
BT must pay the financial penalty to Ofcom and it will then be passed on to HM Treasury.
The company was not available for comment at the time of writing.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Ofcom is the UK's communications regulator.
Published: Thursday, March 19, 2015