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.
The report focuses its attention on areas where the committee believed BT and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport could have acted in a way which brought better value for money for the tax payers.
The recommendations from the report are as follows: (more…)
Ofcom has today published a piece of consumer research looking at how consumers are buying broadband products and their understanding of ISPs’ traffic management policies in relation to this.
The BSG played a key role in facilitating the voluntary code of practice on traffic management transparency launched in 2011 and welcomes Ofcom’s research as an input into how well that voluntary framework is meetings its stated objectives and meeting the needs of consumers.