Consultations

Ofcom proposes to legally separate BT and Openreach

In February 2016, Ofcom published its initial conclusions on the Digital Communications review. Much of the review focused on the need for Openreach to improve the quality of service it delivers to its customers and strengthen Openreach’s independence from BT Group. Ofcom have today set out their detailed approach for how to do this, namely, constituting Openreach as a legal entity within BT Group, stressing however that the option of structural separation remains open in case changes aren’t deemed satisfactory.

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“Establishing world-class connectivity”, Culture Media and Sports Committee publishes report today

In July 2015, the Culture Media and Sports (CMS) Committee launched a public inquiry into the coverage, delivery and performance of superfast broadband in the UK and progress made in improving digital connectivity. The report published today concluded that the “UK has done well” compared with other EU countries on the delivery of superfast broadband thanks to a competitive market. However, it also raised concerns about the willingness of the BT Group to invest in maintaining, upgrading and supporting Openreach’s fibre infrastructure.

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Ofcom consultation on mobile switching process

As announced in Sharon White’s first speech as Ofcom CEO, the Regulator launched yesterday a new consultation on proposals to facilitate mobile switching services. On the basis of evidence gathered in summer 2014, Ofcom identified issues with the current switching processes, and found that these could be confusing and appear to be made difficult for consumers. By improving the switching process and dealing with consumers’ perception that “switching is hard”, Ofcom hopes these changes will lead to more effective competition between providers.

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Ofcom completes Phase 1 of its Digital Communications Review – now comes the hard bit…

Ofcom today published its discussion document on the challenges facing the UK’s telecommunications sector over the next decade, marking the completion of the first phase of the Digital Communications Review that it kicked off in March. The key aim of the review is to ensure that the UK’s citizens and businesses are well served by high-quality, widely available telecoms services.

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BSG Comment: Productivity and Digital Infrastructure

“Productivity is the challenge of our time” – that is the stark opening of the Government’s ‘Fixing the Foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation’ which is billed as the second half of the Budget. The plan outlines the scale of the challenge facing the UK and sets out specific measures in order to overcome it, including practical measures that should help implement its goal for a “world-class digital infrastructure in every part of the UK”.

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DCMS publish policy paper – Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain's digital platform for growth

Today the Department for Culture, Media and Sport publish the policy paper Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain’s digital platform for growth.

We are pleased to share that the Broadband Stakeholder Group has been named as the key conduit to assess what the commercial requirements will be as part of the development of an overall UK digital communications infrastructure strategy for 2015 to 2025. We look forward to working with government, industry and others on this. (more…)

DCMS launches consultation on Connection Vouchers

Yesterday the Department for Culture, Media and Sport launched its much anticipated consultation on Connection Vouchers, one part of the government’s high profile Super Connected Cities programme (also referred to as the Urban Broadband Fund). It is available for download here.

Minister Ed Vaizey has described the Connection Voucher initiative’s aim to “stimulate the market to improve digital connectivity in participating cities, in particular for the benefit of SMEs”. (more…)

DCMS launches consultation on Siting Requirements

Last week saw the launch of the DCMS Consultation on the proposal that, for five years, broadband street cabinets and new poles can be installed under permitted development rights in any location (except SSSIs) without the need for prior approval from local planning authorities. The full Consultation document can be found here.

The timing comes as the delivery of the Government’s ambition to have the best superfast network in Europe by 2015 rolls on. The consultation cites that for any one location it is expected that superfast broadband could create between £143 million and £19.8 billion in additional GVA, and we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on this. (more…)

BSG responds to DCMS consultation on AVMS implementation

The BSG has submitted its response to the DCMS consultation on the implementation of the AVMS Directive.

Broadly, the BSG makes three key points:

  • clarification is required to ensure that the scope of services covered by the Directive is appropriate, and not too broad
  • existing co- and self-regulatory schemes need to be examined, and industry encouraged to take a leading role in developing any additional co- or self-regulatory schemes
  • the government should revise its view on product placement and consider introducing some of the permitted derogations

BSG response to DCMS consultation on AVMS implementation