FCS sits at the centre of an industry whose opportunities are daily expanding, and whose technologies are daily converging. Our work on behalf of a diverse and ever-growing membership brings us into daily contact with fellow organisations who have a more specialist brief – be it concentrating on one industry sector like premium rate numbers or voice over IP telephony, or be it specialising in one particular policy area like cyber-crime or common standards.
FCS believes in working proactively with all aligned industry stakeholders, to generate best-practice solutions to the professional communications industry’s problems at the lowest possible cost to the industry as a whole.
Business users of premium rate numbers benefit directly from FCS’s relationship with Action 4, who represent Britain’s premium rate service providers.
Action 4’s specialist and long-standing experience provides access to real in-depth resource and market intelligence. It also helps drive FCS policy objectives of ensuring business users of premium-rate sales-line or customer support numbers are not inadvertently subsidizing the costs of regulating consumer chat lines, astrologers or TV voting numbers. FCS members plan and drive policy on these issues through membership of the FCS Numbering Group.
Business radio specialists and managers of critical national infrastructure like ports, power companies and railways benefit directly from FCS’s relationship with British APCO – the Association of Public safety Communications Officials.
FCS’s radio spectrum experts feed directly into BAPCO’s policy work around the future of mission-critical voice. Which is, in turn, a major element of our broader campaigning platform around the future of the UHF and 700MHz bands. FCS members plan and drive policy on these issues through membership of the FCS Spectrum Strategy Group or the FCS Critical National Infrastructure group.
CLOUD INDUSTRY FORUM
The expresion 'cloud computing' is used widely and often indiscriminately both within and without the industry to describe everything from internet-enabled telephony to fully hosted data and software management solutions. The Cloud Industry Forum exists to represent professional suppliers and licensors of cloud-based software, aggregators and providers of hosted voice and data services. FCS and CIF work together to promote best practice and ethical partnerships across the converging market place.
DATA CENTRE ALLIANCE
Just as FCS seeks to develop industry best practice and encourage buyers to choose suppliers who trade ethically and focus on customer satisfaction, so the Data Centre Alliance pursues a similar agenda for the growing international data centre industry. FCS works with DCA on matters of common interest, encouraging government to understand the pivotal role of connectivity in enabling business growth, encouraging CPs to check the quality credentials of potential data centre partners, and anticipating forthcoming legislation.
For all its faults, the fixed telephony market does, at least, have sound rules of equivalance of inputs and clear price controls which allow resellers dependable access to network connectivity. Not so the mobile market, where wholesale access to mobile voice and data products is largely at the whim of those MNOs who happen to be willing to offer a wholesale service at that time. And where being a 'virtual' MNO often means being a second-class citizen, unable to compete with the full functionality offered by the big national networks. So FCS works closely with the International MVNO Exchange in support of a fairer and more transparent mobile industry offer for CPs and MVNOs alike.
Frustrated at the BT/Openreach monopoly in next generation access, the paucity of fibre-enabled cabinets in business areas and the way in which taxpayer subsidies are being used to fund BT's duty to upgrade the ageing copper network, FCS encountered the Independent Networks Cooperative Association, who see the identical concerns from the perspective of infrastructure providers, rather than resellers.
FCS and INCA are now working in partnership to deliver non-BT, business-grade broadband to business customers, using INCA members' skills in running utility infrastructure and FCS members' skills at selling added-value solutions to business customers.
Professional telecommunications engineers have their own professional body: The Institute of Telecommunications Professionals. ITP exists to promote and encourage the professionalism of individuals, rather than to represent employers.
FCS is proud to work alongside ITP to promote the highest levels of professionalism in the industry. FCS encourages member companies to avail themselves of the ITP’s technical apprenticeship scheme to ‘grow their own’ and bringing new young professionals into the market, as well as to encourage their existing employees to join the Institute as part of their commitment to employee development.
In the earliest days of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony, providers of this new technology got together to create ITSPA, the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association.
ITSPA’s original purpose was to manage the operating standards and network interfaces to enable IP-based phone services to interact seamlessly with services originating or terminating on the copper network. It also provided a major repository of industry best practice in areas like number porting.
In today’s ever-converging market, VoIP is now the default option for many service providers. But IP-based telephony retains its distinctive technical characteristics. FCS works closely with ITSPA to share best practice and to campaign jointly. Because of the pervasive nature of voice over IP, FCS members plan and drive policy on these issues through membership of the FCS VoIP Group, the FCS Fixed Service Providers Group and the FCS Industry Forum.
The Mobile Electronics Security Federation is FCS’s partner in the provision of training and accreditation for professional vehicle installers.
MESF training courses provide the academic fundamentals for FITAS, FCS’s market-leading accreditation programme for the installation of radio-frequency equipment into vehicles in accordance with the FCS1362 Code of Practice. MESF is also FCS’s partner in FITAS/VECP, the industry training centre to gain the Government’s ‘digital tick’ accreditation of competence to install digital radio upgrades into motor vehicles. FCS members plan and drive policy on these issues through membership of the FCS Installers Committee.
Common industry interoperability standards for network operations and best practice around the copper and fibre networks are authored and overseen by NICC standards (Network Interoperability Consultative Committee).
NICC is a technical forum for the UK communications sector that develops interoperability standards for public communications networks and services in the UK. It is an independent organisation owned and run by its members. FCS provides a frame of reference for NICC’s work with the resellers and communications providers who provide the bulk of the industry’s services to business customers. FCS members plan and drive policy on these issues through membership of the FCS Fixed Service Providers Group.
FCS members enjoy access to the Ombudsman Services: Communications Ofcom-approved Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme at no cost, as a benefit of membership.
Anyone who provides telecommunications services to members of the public or to small businesses with fewer than 10 employees is legally required by Ofcom to offer an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to ensure customer complaints are dealt with in a consistent and professional manner.
FCS’s relationship with Ombudsman Services also allows members preferential access to commercial dispute resolution services in the event of more complex disputes involving larger customers. FCS members plan and drive policy on these issues through membership of the FCS Fixed Service Providers Group or the FCS Industry Forum.
FCS was a founder member of the Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum, which grew from the work FCS initiated to control retail fraud in the earliest days of the UK mobile phone industry.
Today, TUFF operates as a stand-alone organization, approved under the Serious Crime Act 2007 as a Specified Anti-Fraud Organisation, and drawing all sections of the mobile and fixed line communications industry together with the insurance companies and police anti-fraud experts to create a focus for industry-wide intelligence sharing and policy development. FCS members plan and drive policy on these issues through membership of the FCS Fraud Group.