Ofcom today published their initial conclusions from the Digital Communications Review that they kicked off last year. Whilst these are officially their interim findings, the direction of travel is relatively clear; over the next 10 years, the UK will move towards an increasingly all-fibre future, with widespread availability of competing fibre networks driving the take-up of ultrafast services underpinned by a USO. Against the background of convergence, Ofcom will do more to make it easier to compare quality of service across fixed, mobile and bundled offers. Openreach understandably lies at the heart of much of this and whilst BT will be sure to feel additional pain, Ofcom are not proposing full structural separation, yet.
Increasing transparency of businesses broadband speeds – Ofcom’s new voluntary Code of Practice for ISPssamiragazzane
Under a 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.
Ofcom today published their annual Communications Market Report which as usual is packed full of figures and data on the state of play in television, radio, telecoms, internet content and postal sectors. Most of the headline have focused on the number of selfies we are taking and the realisation that smartphones are now the most popular device for getting online.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ofcom announced yesterday the launch of its strategic review of digital communications, a decade after the first review was completed. The regulator will be considering whether current competition and investment infrastructure in the digital communication sector are fit for consumers and businesses’ current and future needs.
The ninth annual report published on 28 January explores the consumers’ experience of the use telecoms, the internet (predominantly fixed broadband), digital broadcasting and postal services in 2014. It is accompanied by a Consumer Experience Policy Evaluation which assesses the impact of Ofcom’s policy work and activities against the findings of the research.
Much of the focus on improving access to the internet has been understandably focused on rural areas. However, research undertaken for Ofcom by Analysys Mason not only shows that slow broadband and Next Generation Access (NGA) availability affect a significant minority of households in urban areas – but that these households tend to be those on the lowest incomes.