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Quality Mark Accreditation and Governance

1. Overall

The INCA Board is the ultimate body in control of the INCA Quality Mark - the “INCA Gold Standard” Scheme. No alterations to the Scheme or its criteria may be made without approval of the Board. The Board may take advice from INCA Officers, the Quality Mark Working Group or the Quality Mark Committee.

2. Quality Mark Working Group

The INCA Quality Mark Working Group is a group for INCA Members to discuss standards and criteria for the Quality Mark scheme and provide guidance to the Board for policy on and operation of the scheme. It is an ad-hoc body consisting of the INCA Chair (as Chair) and such other INCA Members, Officers and nominees as decided by the Chair of the Working Group. The INCA Chair may nominate another INCA Member as Chair of the Working Group. 

The Working Group meets in person or electronically on dates decided by the Chair of the Working Group.

3. Quality Mark Committee

The Quality Mark Committee carries out day-to-day administration of the Scheme under the guidance set by the Board as advised by the Working Group. It decides on new applications according to the stated criteria, investigates any queries and reports any issues needing a Board decision to the Board. It also provides feedback to the Working Group.

The Committee may meet in person or electronically as decided by the Chair.

The Quality Mark Committee consists of three people:

  • INCA Chair (who chairs the Committee)
  • Technical Representative
  • Commercial Representative. 

The Technical and Commercial Representatives are chosen by the Chair and approved by the Board.

The Quality Mark Committee will receive a copy of each Accreditation request and approve, reject or refer back for further information from the Organisation.

A list of Accreditation requests and status will be kept by the Committee and reported to each Board meeting and Working Group meeting.

4. Accreditation to the Scheme

Organisations may apply for Accreditation for their Network(s). An Organisation may operate multiple Networks in different Categories: for example, Full Fibre in one region, Hybrid Fibre in another, Wireless in yet another and make services available on a Wholesale basis across all these Network regions.

Accreditation is via an online form for Organisations to confirm that the Network meets the criteria for that Network Category.

If Organisations operate Networks in multiple Categories, they must give details of how each Network can be identified and commit to only using the correct logo for the specific Network. For example, an Organisation which has an Accredited Full Fibre Network and an Accredited Hybrid Fibre Network may not use the Full Fibre Accreditation to promote the Hybrid Fibre Network.

The Quality Mark Committee will provide guidance on request before or during any application and refer to Board and/or Working Group as necessary.

The Accreditation application, together with any other information submitted by the Organisation will be considered by the Quality Mark Committee. The decision will be:

  • Accredited - Accreditation successful
  • Pending - Committee needs more information
  • Not Accredited - Accreditation not successful

The decision may be discussed with the Organisation, referred to Board or Working Group at any stage in the process in order that an agreed consensus may be arrived at.

5. Accreditation Successful

On successful Accreditation, the Quality Committee will inform the Organisation and:

  • Add the Organisation Network to the list of Accredited Networks in the relevant Category(ies).
  • Update the Accreditation list on the INCA Website
  • Issue the License Agreement to cover the use of the Quality Mark Gold Standard logo to the Organisation.
  • Issue the relevant logos to the Organisation for use to promote the Accredited Network

6. Term of Accreditation

The Accreditation starts when the Quality Mark Committee issues the Accreditation and expires:

  • on the renewal date of the INCA Membership
  • when the INCA Member leaves INCA Membership
  • when, in the Committee’s opinion, a material fact alters the Accreditation status of the Network
  • when the Organisation notifies the Committee that it wishes to withdraw the Network from the Scheme

7. Renewal of Accreditation

Organisations wishing to renew the Accreditation for their Network(s) should confirm they are still in compliance when their INCA Membership is renewed. 

8. Termination of Accreditation

On termination of Accreditation once advised by the Committee, the Organisation agrees to remove all mention of the Scheme from their website, advertising, marketing collateral and all other places where it has been used to promote Accreditation to the Scheme. 

They will hand back any materials, such as Logo files, which have been supplied to them for this purpose by INCA.

Accredited Networks will be removed from the INCA list published on the website and elsewhere, along with a brief statement on the reason for removal of Accredited status.

Termination of Accreditation will be noted on the Accreditation list maintained by the Committee and reported to the Board.

9. Material Change to Accredited Network

Organisations must notify the Committee of any material change to their Accredited Network which may affect the Accreditation status. The Committee may ask for further information or request that a new Accreditation request is made for the changed Network.

Material Change status will be noted on the Accreditation list maintained by the Committee and reported to the Board.

10. Policing

The Scheme seeks to promote the highest possible standards in building and operating networks and thereby protect and promote the reputation of the Independent Networks industry.

It is therefore envisaged that the Scheme will be largely self-policing as it is in every Organisation’s interest that the Scheme can be relied on to identify high-quality networks correctly according to agreed, transparent criteria.

However, in cases where disputes or differences in interpretation occur, the Committee will consider such cases that are referred to it by INCA Members, external organisations or consumers.

11. Clarification and Disputes Procedure

If a request for clarification of Accreditation status is received by INCA or if a dispute is raised with INCA that an Accredited Network is not compliant with the criteria for the Scheme, it will be referred to the Scheme Committee.

The Committee will consider the issue and may call for further information from the Organisation and from such other sources it sees fit. The Committee will make a recommendation to the Board as to the validity of otherwise of the issue and if the Accreditation should be confirmed or withdrawn as follows:

  • issue still pending, awaiting information or discussions.
  • dispute not upheld, reasons given to person who raised it and the Organisation concerned, resolved, accreditation remains.
  • dispute upheld, organisation agrees and takes action by certain date, reasons given, accreditation remains.
  • dispute upheld, organisation does not agree and takes no action, accreditation removed.

Any issues in progress will be included on the Accreditation list kept by the Committee and submitted to each Board meeting.

12. Fees

The maintenance and administration of the Scheme is covered by fees. To keep it simple, there will be a flat fee covering all Categories applied for in a given Membership period. This will be reviewed if there is a high level of administration caused by multiple applications or other factors.

The Joining fee for the Scheme is £500 + VAT. This covers the period from initial Accreditation through to INCA Membership renewal date.

Accreditation renewal fee is £500 + VAT per year, payable when INCA Membership is renewed.

Re-Accreditation after removal or withdrawal in the same Membership year is £250 + VAT.

The Accreditation fee covers all Networks and Network Categories applied for by the Organisation in one Membership period. (This policy may be amended if too many applications are received in one period by a single Organisation.)

Fees are subject to review by INCA Board.

13. Use of Scheme Logo

The use of the Scheme Logo(s) is governed by the INCA Quality Mark Gold Standard Scheme Licence Agreement. This is issued to Organisations once Accreditation for their Network(s) has been approved. The Licence will be withdrawn if Accreditation is removed or Membership lapses.