Telco watchdog Oftel yesterday announced the launch of Pass (Price Assurance Standard Scheme), an award for sites offering easy-to-use, high quality price comparisons for fixed, mobile or internet tariffs.

The Pass logo is the watchdog's reassurance to customers of the accuracy of any price comparisons they are offered.

"This scheme is really good news for telecoms consumers wanting to make sense of the huge choice of tariffs available to them," said David Edmonds, director general of telecommunications at Oftel.

"Pass will give them the assurance that the site is offering comparisons from a wide range of operators and it will also provide a guarantee that the website has been independently checked and verified so that they can make their choices with confidence," he added.

In order to achieve a logo websites will have to meet certain criteria, including accurate price comparisons updated every eight weeks, free information on all residential price comparisons and, most importantly, the website must be independent and not affiliated to any one telecoms supplier.

Oftel will regularly check all affiliated sites to ensure high standards are maintained.

Independent consultancy firm Analysys will audit sites before final accreditation from Oftel. This process should take around eight weeks.

The watchdog would not name any of the websites that had expressed interest, but said it hoped to have accredited its first sites by the end of the year.