Ofcom has published a report on the media use, access, attitudes and understanding amongst children aged 3 – 15, and how parents manage this usage. The report revealed that whilst TV sets and tablets were used the most, TV viewing on a TV set is steadily declining, with consuming content becoming a more solitary activity and mobile viewing becoming increasingly popular. The reduction in TV viewing has been replaced for 3-4 year olds by spending an additional hour online, or gaming for 12-15s. (more…)
The end of 2018 saw Ofcom launching a campaign to motivate people to get better broadband deals and understand the market better. This follows Ofcom’s own research revealing that whilst 94% of homes and businesses have access to super-fast broadband, take up remains at fewer than half.
Ofcom’s latest research into Access and Inclusion has highlighted the different experiences that consumers are encountering in their usage of communications services. Factors such as people’s age, income or disabilities all affect the affordability, take-up and engagement with phone, TV and postal services.
Ofcom yesterday published their annual Connected Nations Report which tracks the progress on deployment and take-up of digital infrastructure and the services provided over them.
The headline stats are that superfast (30Mbit/s) fixed connectivity is up 3 points to 94% of homes and businesses from last year, with 4G coverage from at least one operator up to 91% of the UK’s landmass. This is steady rather than spectacular progress, as you would expect at this stage of the network deployments. Full Fibre connections, a key focus for Government policy following the FTIR, now stands at 6% of premises.
Around 2% of UK premises still cannot currently access broadband services offering a 10 Mbit/s download – the threshold below which the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would kick in. This has halved in the last year and Ofcom will be hoping to see continued progress in 2019 in order to reduce the target area for the broadband USO which will come into effect next year. (more…)
Ofcom has set out its thinking for which providers should be delivering the Government’s Universal Service Order to allow for decent broadband connections across the UK. This consultation follows on from a summer request for interested providers to put themselves forward. As a result, Ofcom proposes to designate BT as the Universal Service Provider for the whole of the UK bar Hull which will be served by KCOM.
Ofcom this week published its Proposed Annual Plan 2019/ 20 Making Communications work for everyone. The final plan will be published in March 2019 following consultation which will run until February 8th.
Priorities will be focused around ensuring universal availability for both broadband and mobile coverage; looking to strengthen public service broadcasting; protecting consumers against unfair pricing; and investigating the scope for regulation of harmful online content.
2019 will see Ofcom designate broadband Universal Service Providers and set out the conditions that will apply to them in accordance with the legislation laid earlier this year providing for access to high speed broadband being a legal right. Focus will also be on improving mobile coverage both indoors and rurally, and the measuring and reporting to consumers. (more…)
The Government last week published the Statutory Instrument (SI) covering the telecoms regulatory framework under the EU Withdrawal Act.
The affirmative SI will need to be actively approved by both Houses of Parliament and is largely technical in nature – correcting references or processes in legislation (eg Communications Act 2003) that were established to ensure a harmonized application of regulation across the EU. Naturally, as the UK will no longer be in the EU these are being removed.
However, there are some amendments which are more significant. In particular Government has decided that it does not need to replicate the EU Commission’s oversight role of Ofcom with a new third-party body. In the explanatory notes the Government explains that they understand the Commission’s role to be one of ensuring a standardized application of regulatory approaches across member states. Although most in industry would suggest that such an oversight body (rather than the Commission per se) provides a useful and cost-effective route to providing a challenge to regulatory decisions.
This goes against the recommendations in the BSG’s Brexit paper in which we argued that such a review process allowed for proper scrutinisation of decisions and helped maintain quality decision-making by Ofcom. It was assumed that the Competition and Markets Authority would be a suitable body, but Government has felt that this was unnecessary. Given that industry’s preference is to prevent a cliff-edge exit of the EU it is unlikely that these concerns will turn into full-blown objections but depending on the nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU it will be interesting to see how thinking on the regulatory framework develops.
In terms of Ofcom’s interaction with BEREC, full membership is restricted to the regulatory authorities of EU member states. Whilst Ofcom would be allowed to be an observer, Government has also made clear that it would be open to Ofcom participating further should this be made possible under the new BEREC Regulation.
Ofcom today published revised figures on broadband and mobile network coverage across the UK updating the Connected Nations report to include data from May this year. The figures show steady increases in the availability of both fixed and mobile services, with the number of premises unable to get decent broadband now under 3%. The Government’s Universal Service Obligation, the details of which Ofcom is currently finalising, will target these properties. (more…)
Ofcom today called for industry bodies to set out their interest in becoming Universal Service Providers of broadband – as mandated by the legislative order established earlier this year delineating the requirements of the Government’s USO. (more…)
Ofcom has published the first of its spring updates on the previously annual-only Connected Nations Report. These reports track the progress made in increasing the coverage and changing nature of communications infrastructure across the UK. A spring and a summer update will now complement the full Connected Nations report published at the end of the year.
The results of spectrum auctions being run by Ofcom were today announced. This principal stage of the auction will see the release of airwaves in two frequency bands – 2.3 GHz, will help advance today’s mobile phone use in 4G services and 3.4 GHz, a band that will enable the running of future 5G services. (more…)
Ofcom has opened an investigation into the traffic management practices of both Vodafone and Three using for the first time powers granted by the EU Open Internet Access Regulation 2015, which requires Ofcom to monitor and ensure compliance of the net neutrality rules.
Ofcom today announced new rules that aim to increase investment in full fibre by reducing the upfront costs that building the broadband network entail.
By forcing BT to make its telegraph poles and underground tunnels available to communications providers, Ofcom estimates that the cost of laying fibre cables could be reduced by 50%.
In March 2017, BT announced its voluntary agreement to legally separate from Openreach, its network division, with the latter becoming a distinct company with its own staff, management and strategy. Ofcom announced today how it will monitor progress towards the legal separation and measure the results.
Last week Ofcom published its first report to the European Commission under the ‘Connected Continent’ Regulation (2015/2120) on how UK operators are complying with the new Net Neutrality rules. The report was split into five sections on; quality of Internet Access Services, safeguarding open internet access, traffic management, transparency measures and complaints and remedies. Overall, Ofcom found no major concerns although it did highlight some points that merit further examination. (more…)