back to article Yeah, you're not having a GSM gateway, Ofcom tells hopeful operators

UK comms regulator Ofcom has told people wanting to set up a GSM gateway that it will not be authorising them to do so, pending a planned government appeal against a recent High Court judgment. Sources have told The Register that Ofcom is pushing back hard against any attempts to apply for a GSM gateway licence. They say this …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge


    I suspect the issue with incorrect CLI with GSM gateways is more the mobile operators not supporting the end user device sending the CLI rather than the gateway not supporting it.

    We used to have a GSM gateway but binned it in the end as call costs via SIP carriers dropped through the floor. The lack of Type 5 Presentation Number was another of the nails in the coffin of the gateway.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: CLI

      Would I be right in thinking, that if the CLI isn't being passed, then it would be of use to spam callers?

      Anyway, the idea of the spooks trying to keep a lid on GSM gateways for surveillance purposes, is pretty pointless in these days of whatsapp and skype etc.

    2. Anne Hunny Mouse

      Re: CLI

      "We used to have a GSM gateway but binned it in the end as call costs via SIP carriers dropped through the floor."

      Same here. Support was terrible from the provider and even the rates we started getting on ISDN circuits were cheaper than the gateway. The rates available on SIP are even lower.

      I think the GSM gateway business has largely disappeared. We told the company we weren't using it and they were supposed to collect but never bothered. It went in the WEEE skip.

  2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

    You mean, like, Caller ID?

    "...passing caller line identification (CLI) data through..."

    I've given up on Caller ID. Black Lists do not work, because the spam callers just send through anything they want.

    Is it supposed to still work?

    Telcos should realize that this 'fake Caller ID spam caller' issue is a factor that will drive the ultimate abandonment of land lines. I'm certainly closing in on that conclusion.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

      Land lines are for emergencies and overseas calls.

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

        "Land lines are for emergencies and overseas calls."

        Funny thing is, here in NL most mobile packages are now cheaper than land lines for international calls. I've long had free calls anywhere in the EU with my Vodafone business contract.

        Lebara currently offer a SIM only contract (which you can cancel with a month's notice) for EUR 15/month which gives you 5 GB of data in NL/EU and unlimited free calls within the EU and from NL to 17 other countries (Canada, US, Hong Kong, etc.).

        1. paulf Silver badge

          Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

          I remember when Orange in the UK had a long term promotion where international calls were 20% cheaper than on a BT landline. That was a compelling offer in those pre Skype-Out, pre MVNO days. That was back around Y2K and was gone by the time France Telecom appeared on the scene a year or so later.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

      I just whitelist.

      Unless you present to me a known CLI that I have chosen to accept in the past, nothing gets through. You can't contact me? Shame. Maybe that's because I never gave you my number in the first place (or didn't want to but was forced to, or someone else gave it to you, etc.).

      For personal use, I just mute the default ringtone and make known contacts have a ringtone that sounds.

      For business use, I only bother with SIP and then it's just a matter of pushing them through a SIP-based menu if you don't recognise their number from your whitelist. They don't even connect to my site unless they can get past that menu (which has an option to leave me a voicemail, which I treat just like unknown spam email).

      If you're hiding your CLI, I don't want to talk to you (the old joke: You want to hide your number, fine I'll 100% respect your privacy by not taking your call...). If you need to contact me, you'll be given an option to leave a voicemail. If you can only get through by calling from a proper CLI-number... oh what a shame... that's like only being able to send me an email if you come from a proper domain, with proper reverse DNS, that's not on a blacklist, etc. etc. etc. No different. At worst case, I google the CLI phone number and if nothing comes up, I assume you're a spammer.

      And if it's anything even vaguely important, like an unpaid bill, a contract you need me to sign, or anything along those lines... you'll send me a letter. And I'll discuss it with you at my convenience.

      I've cut the landline. I have a 4G box instead. The number of that is my "spam" number because... well... who cares, it can't even ring anyway. My mobile phone (20+ year old number) operates a whitelist like above. I get less spam on that than anyone else I know. My inconvenience factor of "someone couldn't get hold of me" is basically zero - people I know have no problem getting through. And my backup plan is that I have a Draytel SIP account in the background, connected to my router. If I need to, I'll move to that, and send you through a verification switchboard menu first.

      Fact is, the last 10 years I've had that option and I've not been pushed to it yet.

      I'm on the TPS, I don't sign up with my numbers to anything, and I get almost nothing anyway - maybe a number that people online say is a "have you had an accident" caller once every three months or so. I'm presuming they just try every possible 10-digit code or whatever and hang the TPS. They don't get through. 99% of the time they don't even get to a voicemail. I don't have the time to mess with them or play games or even answer them so I don't... if my phone is ringing from an unknown caller and I need to use the phone, I just press hang-up and dial the number I need.

      I've not yet missed anything important in 10+ years. I don't see why others would suffer the way they do. A friend of mine just bought one of those services/phones that blocks so-many-CLIs and things... it's useless, and the blacklist fills up very quickly, and they have to PAY for it... to the same people who are delivering those calls and being paid to do so in the first place. Sod that.

      If it ever really becomes an issue for me, I'm only about 2 days from getting a bunch of 07 numbers from a SIP provider, or something like Skype, and just let them get spammed to oblivion and never answer them to anyone I don't know. Cheaper all round. To be honest, I think I'd just do it through my router or a PC with a load of 3G dongles... and just load Asterisk, FreePBX or similar to send them in circles if they are unknown. It's not yet come to that, though.

      Why a telco thinks they'll see anything of my money while this is happening and they aren't taking the simplest of actions against it, though, i can't fathom.

      1. IPTMan

        Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

        "Unless you present to me a known CLI that I have chosen to accept in the past, nothing gets through"

        I agree with most of what you say there, whitelisting is the way to go although I was glad I did answer a withheld number a few months ago, it was my Doctors with a rather important and potentially lifesaving message for me.

        I raised their lack of presentation numbering at my subsequent visit and was assured they would pass it on to the 'technical people'. I requested that they contact me for an explanation if they needed as I had more than a passing few years in corporate comms - both 2 wire and SIP and would like to understand their rationale towards withholding the number altogether - but heard nothing more.

        I've got a feeling they are part of a larger hosted platform with nothing more than a bit of QoS'd pipe to the far end and that may well be a BT Avaya platform as the whole surgery is adorned with the rather cute elephant's foot Avaya 46xx series. OTOH they probably have a ropey old IP Office at the bottom of the mop cupboard and a now long-gone maintainer who saw them coming and flogged off all the old crap he had knocking about!

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

          and would like to understand their rationale towards withholding the number altogether

          AIUI it's supposed to be a privacy thing - not telling everyone in the household that it's the doctor's surgery calling.

        2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

          The Police do the same thing which leads to the comical discussion when the Police call me wanting to trace a 999 call from our system:

          Police: "Can you trace a call for us please"

          Me: "Sure, can you prove you're the Police as it just says number withheld and you could be anyone"

          Police: "Mmmmm...."

          *Click* *Brrr*

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

          > I raised their lack of presentation numbering at my subsequent visit and was assured they would pass it on to the 'technical people'.

          You should raise it with their "legal people" - the NHS was singled out as being one of the worst offenders for making anonymised phone calls when it shouldn't be doing so - with Doctor surgery and hospitals being pointed to as the culprits.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

        "or didn't want to but was forced to"

        For those, I have a 070 number.

    3. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

      "is a factor that will drive the ultimate abandonment of land lines"

      which is exactly what the telcos want. Laying lines to properties and actually maintaining them is difficult and expensive. Much cheaper and easier to have everyone on mobile, you only need to maintain one mast to cover thousands of homes. Easy peasy.

      Just dont ask about places where there is no mast.... We dont talk about them...

      1. BobProton

        Re: You mean, like, Caller ID?

        But but think of poor old openreach

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do we have the rule of law?

    Or is it the Dictatorship of the Elite-ariat?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Do we have the rule of law?


  4. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge

    "passing caller line identification (CLI) data through the gateway"

    Opening up further avenues for spam and untraceable calls is a bad thing.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is Ofcom fit for purpose?

    Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that Ofcom is no longer the independent regulator it claimed to be and legislation stipulated.

    The galling CLI issue is that most GSM gateways can pass through the originating CLI, however the UK MNOs have sought to not support this feature.

    Why? Could the reason be that GSM Gateways eat into the MNO revenues and profits?

    GSM Gateways in the UK were primarily connected to clients that included local, national and international businesses, government departments and emergency services that wanted to avoid the high termination costs, previously associated with calling mobile phones from fixed line PABX in offices and other similar locations. Security concerns of the Home Office regarding emergency calls are simply fanciful and misleading, as these calls were programmed to be routed directly via existing fixed switch PABX facilities and NOT via GSM Gateways, so lack of CLI was not an issue.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    The whole thing is absurd

    So what about 0845/0870 indirect access numbers, SIP providers, switchboards, and telemarketing, many of which slice and dice the CLI any way they like?

    All so some senior civil servant in the Home Office can save face. He's had his way for a decade and by God nobody's going to take that away from him now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The whole thing is absurd

      The clock is ticking ever louder and recent government events can only temporarily shift the spotlight away from the guilty.

  7. Tomato Krill


    Are we taking of the type that Beronet market? We've played wit a few of them over the years and v useful for companies with large cellphone fleets esp in countries with expensive calling to mobiles

    1. william flipflops

      Re: Gateways

      Can you repeat that in a recognised language

  8. The Mighty Atom

    Who pays for Ofcom?

    OFCOM is funded in two ways. Partially funded by the taxpayer, through government grants and largely funded by the industries it regulates, telecom operators included. EU legislation directs that regulators must act independently and not be unduly influenced by any other body, commercial or government.

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