Flextel Limited is Britain's longest-running virtual number company. It was formed in 1992 by a team of management professionals, some of whom helped found and launch the Vodafone Mobile service.
Flextel was founded by the former Head of Telecoms at Vodafone (1983-1989), Mr William R Goodall, BSc CEng FIET. William was a founder member of the original 10 man team at Vodafone. Starting with a team of one (himself) he established all the Telecom and initial Engineering computer systems.
After helping beat Cellnet to the launch of the UK's first cellular network on January 1st, 1985, he rapidly built a team - including over forty Computer and Telecom specialists at graduate level - to accurately control the design and deployment of the business critical and complex Telecommunications infrastructure.
It was this area that gave Vodafone a clear edge over Cellnet, when in 1986 Vodafone's network quality outshone that of Cellnet's, due to better telecom switch performance. During 1986, despite the backing of the massive resources of BT, Vodafone's market share overtook that of Cellnet's. Cellnet never recovered poll position.
Flextel was licenced by the Department of Trade and Industry (now BIS) in 1993, under section 7 of the 1984 Telecommunications Act, to provide telecommunications services. As a result, in December 1993, Flextel launched the UK's first Personal Telephone Number Service using the 09567 mobile number range and has since built a powerful service with a track record for a high quality, reliable service.The UK telecom regulator, Oftel (superseded by Ofcom in January 2004), reserved the whole of the 070 dialling code range exclusively for Personal Numbers, and so eliminated any confusion between Personal Numbers and expensive 09X Premium Rate numbers, as well as ensuring adequate number availability for the future.
Flextel was the first company in the UK to provide full online Personal Number selection, connection and control using the Internet. Today you can still control your Intelligent Numbers either using the original, simple, single number control console (myNumber). Alternatively you can use the more powerful, password protected, myAccount, which offers a powerful multi-number control console know as the Dashboard and which provides control of the more advanced features. In both cases your privacy is protected by banking level security.
As a result of its long track record of quality service, Flextel is uniquely positioned to raise the profile of the impact of Ofcom's interventions on SME, SoHO and personal consumers of terminating call services. Over the last few years Flextel has been heavily engaged with Ofcom, as it strongly disagrees with its media driven, tactical regulatory approach.
Since 2003, Ofcom has created a plethora of complex microregulations, which are simply sticking-plaster solutions to an underlying cause. From 2004, we have worked hard to convince Ofcom to take a more strategic approach and stop dealing with the symptoms of market failure. Unlike other retail markets, Telecom consumers have never enjoyed clear accurate pricing, available at the time of purchase. For calls this means prices should be to hand just before dialling.
So we've asked Ofcom to cure the patient by treating this underlying cause and consider how best to deliver adequate price transparency. Why? because it will encourage fair competition in the call origination market and this will not only help consumers, it will help all telecom competitors, including Flextel.
We've offered our solution. It delivers pricing available at the time of call purchase i.e. just before dialling. Our proposal is compatible with all telecoms systems and delivers universal and free call price labelling. So consumers can easily check a call price just before calling. This will drive down prices, towards cost. So retail and therefore wholesale rates will be pressed down.
Unsurprisingly our idea is being resisted by the BT and other big telcos. They say it is too complex for their tariff and reseller agreements. We say, nonsense! Just simplify your tricky tariffs and bamboozling reseller deals and the problem evaporates!
Without good pricing information, then we can all expect more treatment of the symptoms occurring in the UK and the EU. Examples of this are well-meaning, but misguided campaigns such as Terminate-the-Rate and Saynoto0870.These superficially attractive and seductive campaigns only serve to damage competition. They simply move the problem elsewhere e.g. higher mobile prices or, as in the USA, paying for incoming calls to mobiles. So, if you think email spam is bad, just wait until you're paying for incoming calls and your caller pay next to nothing! These campaigns have the right overall intention and we support that, but balance and rigour is what's needed if consumers are to win a long term benefit.
Even the EU, encouraged by populist ideals are attacking outrageous mobile call prices and roaming charges by tinkering with the beguiling, but corrupting, concept of price caps, instead of looking at consumer empowerment as the way forward.Flextel is also pressing Ofcom and the EU Commission to raise the quality of its impact and risk assessments on both consumers and small business which remains poor. To find out more see "Working with Ofcom" page.