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On behalf of Plum Communications I wish you…
On 29th December Ofcom will be five years old, after being established on 29th December 2003. Ofcom was set up as a single regulatory body, taking over the duties of the five previous bodies - the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), the Radio Authority, and the Radiocommunications Agency. Originally solely located in one office in London, Ofcom now has offices throughout the UK. Communications has come a long way in those 5 years, for example: 9 out of 10 people in the UK now have at least 1 digital TV, 60% have broadband internet compared to 7% in 2002, and the number of mobile connections has also risen by almost 50 per cent to reach 74 million. A list of Ofcom’s milestones from 2003-2006 can be found here, and a list of Ofcom’s milestones from 2007-08 can be found here.
We would like to remind customers about the re-emerging danger of ‘Dial Through Fraud’ (also known as PBX Hacking). ‘Dial Through Fraud’ occurs when fraudsters crack the protection codes needed to get into a company’s switchboard, and then dial outside lines at a company’s expense. Many companies have phone exchanges that let company employees ring in to the switchboard, and then by keying certain dialing codes, get an outside line to anywhere in the world. The company then pays the bill for the outgoing call. Therefore, anyone who cracks the protection around those codes can make unlimited calls at the company's expense.
Examples of this has appeared in The Guardian newspaper. In one case, a fraudster hacked into the telephone exchange of a firm in Kent and made international calls to the Philippines, Dubai, US and Italy, which led to call charges of £1,000. In a further case in Manchester, fraudsters used Voice over IP technology to hack into the telephone exchange, which meant in reality that their calls could have been made from anywhere in the world, and made international calls to 19 countries (including Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Serbia and the Republic of Yemen), which led to call charges of £2,100. Therefore, it is essential that companies try and protect themselves from such fraud.
We recommend these ‘15 Top Tips’ to help guard your business against the risks of ‘Dial Through Fraud’:
At noon today at the Manchester Central conference centre, returning officer Sir Neil McIntosh announced that the majority of voters had voted against the introduction of the congestion charge. Across the 10 regions of Greater Manchester, 1.94 million ballot packs have been sent out over the last 2 weeks. By 10pm last night 1,030,000 residents (53.2% of the electorate) turned out to vote. The scheme needed at least 7 boroughs to vote in favour of the scheme for it go-ahead, but as the following breakdown suggests (see the Middleton Guardian), this didn’t happen:
The Times suggests that voters were not persuaded by the £1.5 billion Government funding for public transport, despite the fact that it would have created 10,000 extra jobs due to the construction of new tram lines and improved trains and buses. Many questioned the timing of the referendum, which would have seen drivers paying £5 a day (up to £1,200 a year) to get in and out of Manchester (here is a map of the proposed outer and inner rings), due to the current economic climate and the belief that building more roads is not financially possible or environmentally acceptable.
It appears that the vote was decided by whether you drove into Manchester, or took public transport into Manchester. Those who take public transport are more likely to vote in favour of additional public transport, as it would be more beneficial to them and across a year they wouldn’t pay as much as drivers. However, those who drive into Manchester would vote against it, as they would inevitably have to pay up to £5 a day just to go to work, a possible £1,200 a year, which for someone with a basic salary could be quite a financial burden. Similarly, those travelling from the most furthest out boroughs in Greater Manchester would prefer to drive over public transport, as it is a lot quicker.
Ofcom have released their telecoms report for the second 3 months (April - June) in 2008. The report aims to highlight emerging trends in the UK telecoms sector, in order to generate a greater understanding of the sector amongst consumers and businesses alike. As stated on the Ofcom website, the main trends in fixed lines and calls, internet, and mobile phones, were as follows:<
Ofcom has announced that a congestion-charge advert, shown in the ITV Granada region between November 6 and 13, was biased towards the introduction of the congestion charge in Manchester, and has consequently been pulled off the air. Ofcom states that the advert publicised a website which was pro-congestion charge, and that the advert itself showed partiality toward the congestion charge. A Greater Manchester transport spokesman said that Ofcom’s ruling was unjustified, as the advert, which cost £230,000 to produce, had been previously approved by an independent body of broadcasters. The full Ofcom review can be seen here.
Just a reminder, you have until 11th December to vote in the congestion charge referendum. Please visit our previous blog entry ‘Manchester Congestion Charge - Yes or No?’ for more information on this.
Residents of Greater Manchester today woke up to picturesque views of roads, houses, cars and fields blanketed by up to 6 inches of snow. Last night’s snow falls were supposedly the heaviest since November 1996. However, this ‘winter wonderland’ has caused major disruptions to people travelling to school and work, with traffic and public transport being affected, in particular in Middleton and Oldham.
Throughout the region drivers were forced to reduce their speeds to 15 – 20mph in fear of skidding on the roads, which in addition to the traffic caused mass delays on the roads, with cars being abandoned on the traffic gridlocked A62, A635 and A627M. Snow ploughs were in put into use on the M62 eastbound out of Greater Manchester, in order to re-open a lane. Junctions 19 (Middleton/Heywood) and 20 (Rochdale) of the M62 was closed due to 2 HGVs colliding at 19, and a vehicle careering up the embankment at 20. In one incident, a car crashed into a house in Grimshaw Lane, Middleton, but thankfully no-one was injured. Consequently, many workers had to find alternative ways of travelling into work, as buses alike also struggled to cope with the poor weather conditions.
Due to teachers struggling to get into work, many schools in the area have been closed for the day or opened later in the day. Schools which have closed down today include: Royton and Crompton Secondary School, Crompton House, St. Mary’s, Buckstones Primary School, Saddleworth Prep, South Failsworth Primary, Counthill and North Chadderton.
The weather conditions also affected trains in the area, with trains breaking down and numerous services being heavily delayed or cancelled; Manchester Airport to Edinburgh, Manchester Victoria to Leeds, to name but a few. However, these disruptions look set to be cleared up this afternoon.
Is this the last of the snow? Possibly. Oldham Chronicle’s weatherman Damien Rogers said, “There may be more snow on Thursday and it is possibly going to stay cold until the weekend”. The BBC Weather pages show that for Oldham; there may be more snow today, tomorrow will be foggy, Thursday will be very wet, and Friday will have some sunny intervals. Is it me or is the weather just too unpredictable at the moment? Is this our snow for the year? Will there still be a White Christmas?
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