Ofcom’s proposed work plan for 2020-2021Sophie James
Ofcom has set out its proposed workplan for the next financial year. The consultation closes on 25th February 2020.
- Better broadband and mobile – support ongoing investment in faster broadband and better mobile coverage across the country.
- Fairness for customers – ensure broadband, phone and TV customers, particularly vulnerable people, are treated fairly.
- Support UK broadcasting – support the sector (including public service broadcasting) in delivering continued benefits to all UK audiences.
- Online communications – in conjunction with Government, protect consumers from harmful content online and ensure communications services online work for consumers.
- Enable strong, secure networks – build a centre of excellence for security and resilience, work with industry to protect networks against outages and cyber-attacks, lead on initiatives to close gaps in best practice.
Better broadband and mobile:
Ofcom’s market review of wholesale fixed telecoms is underway. Ofcom will implement the broadband universal service obligation to ensure that more consumers in the hardest to reach and most remote locations have access to decent broadband communications. Ofcom also ensure that mobile coverage is improved in rural areas. The mobile industry is also developing its own proposals for a ‘Shared Rural Network’ that will see all four mobile network operators make binding commitments to provide good quality coverage in exchange for up to £500m funding from the UK Government and an auction without coverage obligations. Ofcom will continue to support the Government with technical advice to reach agreement on these proposals and will report regularly on progress once final agreement has been reached. Ofcom will continue to improve opportunities for spectrum sharing. Facilitating the launch of new mobile services for consumers and industry, including 5G will be part of the plan and more spectrum awards for 5G services (700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz) are planned.
Fairness for customers:
Ofcom will help more customers get fair broadband deals by continuing to take steps to introduce a social tariff, and will work with Government to consider how such a tariff might be implemented. Ofcom will consider the case for a collective switch trial designed to help the least engaged customers, including vulnerable customers. Ofcom will also develop proposals for an Open Communications initiative to allow customers to share data held by their provider (such as their tariff and data usage) with third parties such as digital comparison tools, to help people navigate the market and get a better deal. Ofcom has set out proposed changes to regulatory rules, including new rules on switching and number porting, handset locking, accessibility for disabled customers and consumer information in its document on EECC implementation. A statement is expected to be published in Q1 2020.
Ofcom’s proposed budget is £133.6m which includes a 2% rise to account for inflation and capacity for its responsibilities.