Ofcom

Ofcom publishes consultation on opening up BT’s infrastructure

Following the launch of its consultations on the review of the wholesale local access (WLA) market, Ofcom published today detailed plans to improve access to Openreach’s underground ducts and poles (known as PIA – Physical Infrastructure Access) to competing providers of fibre broadband. The proposed measures are designed to boost investment in the next generation of ultrafast broadband and allow competitors to use existing infrastructure to build their own fibre networks at scale.

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BT announces voluntary agreement to legally separate from Openreach

Ending a long period of negotiations with Ofcom, BT announced today its voluntary agreement to legally separate from Openreach. Ofcom confirmed that “it will no longer need to impose these changes through regulation” as initially proposed last year and welcomed BT’s decision. This is a significant reform for the BT Group as Openreach will now become a distinct company with its own staff, brand and Board which will be able to make independent decisions on strategic investments affecting other telecoms providers.

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Getting ready for 5G – Ofcom’s key work to ensure availability of 5G spectrum

Ofcom published yesterday an update on its activities to facilitate the deployment of 5G networks within the next few years. 5G services, which are designed to enhance the mobile broadband experience, boost the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) and provide more reliable communications, are dependent on the relevant network infrastructure and spectrum bands.

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Ofcom’s Connected Nations shows improving picture of superfast broadband coverage and take-up though 1.4 million premises are still falling behind

Ofcom published today its annual Connected Nations report, showing progress on the availability and performance of fixed broadband and mobile services received by UK households and businesses.  On the basis of data collected in June 2016, Ofcom found that coverage of broadband networks for households and businesses has improved across the UK. However, Ofcom emphasised those premises located in rural areas (including SMEs) are lacking access to “acceptable broadband speeds”.

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Ofcom passes the USO back to Government

Ofcom today published their technical advice to Government on the design of a broadband Universal Service Obligation. Ofcom were instructed to deliver its “views, evidence-based analysis and…recommendations” by John Whittingdale, then Secretary of State for DCMS, in March 2016. It has certainly delivered on the first two although in making clear that designing a USO is complex, it only offers a few recommendations. It will now be up to Government to make some of the thornier policy choices.

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Ofcom CEO Sharon White outlines her vision for a post-Brexit framework that ensures the right outcome for consumers

In a speech to the Institute for Government, Sharon White presented Ofcom’s priorities for the communications sector post-Brexit; stressing the need to retain a regulatory framework that works for UK consumers and UK businesses. Leaving the EU will mean “choices about replicating, or replacing” EU laws, as well as opportunities for Ofcom “to preserve the best of the EU Framework”, “improve it” and “avoid making things worse”.

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Increasing transparency of businesses broadband speeds – Ofcom’s voluntary Code of Practice for ISPs comes into force

Under the new voluntary Ofcom Code, Internet Service Providers commit to give businesses “clearer, more accurate and transparent information on broadband speeds before they sign up to a contract”. If the promised upload and download speeds fall below the guaranteed levels, businesses will be able to leave their contract with no penalties. The Code was launched earlier this year but comes into force today.

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Ofcom’s consultation on the broadband USO – responses highlight divergence of visions

Ofcom published last week a summary of responses to its April 2016 consultation on the design of the broadband universal service obligation (USO). The Government proposed last year to introduce a USO of 10Mbit/s available to all premises and tasked Ofcom to produce technical advice and recommendations to support its design. 115 responses to Ofcom’s call for inputs (CFI) were received, highlighting various perspectives and approaches to achieve universal decent broadband coverage in the UK.

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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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Ofcom call for inputs on automatic compensation

Ofcom has today published its consultation on automatic compensation for consumers and smaller businesses who experience disruption to daily activities caused by problems with their communications services. Before publishing a detailed consultation on the system, Ofcom is gathering initial views on the scope, form, process, level of compensation and also possible risks of introducing new measures. (more…)