To protect the consumer by implementing and enforcing the law many aspects of everyday life are governed and regulated by law and Government departments and legislation.

Legislation and regulation is often a last resort after voluntary codes of practice.

In this article introduces you to Ofcom, who, among other aspects of communication systems, regulates Mobile Telephony - to us this is the Mobile Phone Industry.

Also in this article will introduce you to OTELO and CISAS

What is Ofcom?

Ofcom is the United Kingdom regulator for the Communications industry (Office - Communications).

Operating under the Communications Act of 2003 which sets out Ofcom's general duties of looking after the interests of citizens and consumers.

Accountable to Parliament, Ofcom is involved in the setting of, and advising on, some of the more technical aspects of regulation.

Also implementing and enforcing the law.

Ofcom covers a wide range of telecommunications services from: Broadband, Television, and Radio.

Included under the umbrella of Radio, is Mobile Telephone - because mobile telephones use the radio waves to transmit telephone calls.

The mobile industry comes under the regulation of Ofcom by ensuring that the Radio spectrum is used in an effective manner.

There are, however, things that Ofcom is not responsible for regulating, such as: disputes between you and your telecom's provider; services such as mobile phone ring-tones and mobile phone text services.

You can read more about Ofcom here.

Who actually deals with Mobile Phone Industry complaints if OFCOM doesn't?

Many mobile phones are sold every year, along with many mobile phone contracts.

While the vast majority of these transactions are carried out, or conducted, in a manner that is satisfactory, from time-to-time problems arise which the consumer - that is you and I - require a resolution.

There are many things which you might feel the need to complain about - the amount of your bill, the tariff you are being charged, or perhaps you feel that the way you were sold your contract or phone was not correct.

What should you do if you feel that you were not given all the facts when you signed your contract or purchased your pay as you go phone ?

Perhaps you have a problem with your mobile phone network service provider.

Your network service provider should have a complaints procedure and this should be your first avenue of enquiry.

If you are not happy with the response given to your complaint by your network provider you should perhaps enquire as to whether an appeal process is in place for you to appeal the outcome of your complaint.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint to your network provider, you are then entitled to take your complaint further by going to what is referred to as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Scheme.

What is an Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme ?

There are two Alternative Dispute Resolution Schemes which cover England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These two schemes are referred to as: The Ombudsman Services (Formerly OTELO) (Office of the Telecommunication Ombudsman), and CISAS (Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme).

These two schemes are separate and independent of each other.

The Ombudsman Services have a number of factsheets (FAQs) where you can refer to the section that is most applicable to your needs, including but not limited to:
Ombudsman Services FAQs
Ombudsman Services Complaints Process FAQs
Using the Ombudsman Services FAQs
Or for the full list of Sections / Factsheets

So who do I go to - The Ombudsman Services (formerly OTELO) or CISAS - does it matter ?

Every Mobile Phone Network Operator - for example: Vodafone, Lycamobile, Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile, O2, Asda Mobile, Lebara, Nomi, Orange, 3 Network, Talk Mobile and T-Mobile - are required to belong to one of these two schemes.

Your network service operator is required to tell you, if you ask, which scheme they are a member of - OTELO or CISAS - failure to tell you which scheme your mobile network operator is a member of is in breach of important consumer protection rules and this in itself can be reported to OFCOM because this is one thing that OFCOM regulates and controls.

The Ombudsman Services (formerly OTELO) and CISAS both list the network operators who are members of their respective schemes, on their own respective websites.

You can read more about Ombudsman Services (Formerly OTELO) and CISAS by visiting:


The following networks belong to the formerly OTELO scheme:

  • Asda Mobile;
  • Lebara Mobile;
  • Lycamobile;
  • Lycatel;
  • Nomi;
  • O2 / Telefonica;
  • Talk Mobile;
  • Talk Talk Mobile;
  • Tesco Mobile;
  • Three / 3;
  • Vectone;
  • Vodafone.

The following networks belong to the CISAS scheme:

  • Orange;
  • T-Mobile (Everything Everywhere);
  • Virgin Mobile.

Before contacting either The Ombudsman Services or CISAS it would be prudent to bear in mind that neither OTELO nor CISAS will consider any complaint unless, either:

  • You have received a letter from your network operator telling you that they will not consider your complaint any further;


  • You have been through every step of your network operator's complaints procedure; plus at least eight weeks have passed since you first lodged your complaint with your network provider.

What happens when I contact OTELO or CISAS ?

Your complaint will be studied by an OTELO or CISAS (as appropriate) adjudicator who will make a decision based on the facts available.

Once the adjudicator has made a decision your network operator has to abide by the decision.

How do I complain to OTELO or CISAS ?

You will need to fill in a form - these are available from:

  • The Ombudsman Services (formerly OTELO) and CISAS, as appropriate
  • Your network operator
  • Or Online.

Before sending the form into The Ombudsman Services (formerly OTELO) or CISAS, you will typically need a reference number from your network provider.

For up-to-date requirements for The Ombudsman Services (formerly OTELO) or CISAS, it would be wise to visit their respective websites, and / or contact them for advice on making a complaint.

If The Ombudsman Services (formerly OTELO) or CISAS make a decision which goes against you, your option would then be to seek legal advice.

This article can be used on your own website, free of charge, providing this article is unaltered and the information and link in the box below is also included with the article.

Tim Austin writes articles about various aspects of the Mobile Phone industry.

More articles are available by visiting

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