This week the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that over 25,000 SMEs have now taken advantage of the Government’s broadband connection voucher scheme. The scheme helps businesses upgrade their broadband connection with a grant of up to £3000 and is available across 50 cities from over 500 suppliers.
In the early hours of this morning, the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of Ministers reached a political compromise on the Connected Continent Regulation. The Broadband Stakeholder Group recognises the efforts made by the EU Latvian Presidency to facilitate the negotiations and conclude them before the end of its term. The new EU law will end roaming charges from June 2017 when travelling in the EU and will include for the first time rules regulating the Open Internet.
Ofcom yesterday launched an action plan for improving the broadband services that are available to the UK’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Whilst they found that the vast majority of SMEs are satisfied with the communications and are well catered for, they did discover a significant minority who had less favourable experiences. Ofcom highlighted four issues that they feel need more attention; the availability of superfast broadband, a concentrated retail market structure, concerns around quality of service, and SMEs struggling to navigate the market.
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), have published and adopted a timely report on net neutrality and which traffic management policies influence consumer’s purchasing decisions. The headline finding is that consumers unsurprisingly tend to favour packages that align with Open Internet principles*and that as long as “there is transparency, and consumers are able easily to switch provider, such services seem likely to predominate”. This supports the BSG’s view, backed by the UK Government and Ofcom, that transparency and effective competition are the best guarantors of the Open Internet.
Sharon White delivered today her first major speech as Ofcom’s Chief Executive at a Which? Conference. She stressed that Ofcom will continue to carry out its role as a light touch regulator, encouraging competition and investment, but with an increased consumer focus. As part of her speech, Sharon White highlighted some elements of Ofcom’s work programme, including the improvement of the process for consumers to switch broadband and landline providers, the upcoming Digital Communications Review, and confirming the government’s commitment to deliver the Universal Service Obligation of 5Mbit/s.