Author - Gulistan Ladha

Ofcom Statement on Implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code

In its December 2019 consultation, Ofcom proposed a package of measures to implement new customer protections in the EECC. In a statement by the regulator published today, the following decisions have been made:

  • Selling locked handsets will be banned – from December 2021.
  • Customers needing accessible formats due to their disabilities can request communications to be sent in a format that meets their needs (e.g. braille). This includes communications about their service such as price changes or payment reminders – from December 2021.
  • Customers will be given important information in writing before they sign a contract, including a summary of key contract terms (broadband providers must inform customers of the minimum internet speeds they can expect) – from June 2022.
  • Customers can exit their contract if providers make changes they were not previously informed of, and are not to their benefit during the minimum term. This applies to other services or equipment if bought as part of a bundle – from June 2022.
  • Enabling broadband switching across physically separate fixed networks, and banning notice period charges beyond the date of the switch for fixed residential customers – from December 2022.

Within the statement, Ofcom is consulting on proposed changes to the General Conditions, the Metering and Billing Direction and the Numbering Plan until 30 November.

The full document is available here:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/proposals-to-implement-new-eecc

The Electronic Communications and Wireless Telegraphy (Amendment) (European Electronic Communications Code and EU Exit) Regulations 2020 – Transposition Update

Today legislation was laid in Parliament by Matt Warman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital Infrastructure, which implements the European Electronic Communications Code Directive. Transposing the changes into UK law ensures that Ofcom’s powers remain operable and reflect recent technological innovation. Some measures, such as the security of networks and services, are being given effect through alternative legislation.

The Draft Statutory Instrument can be found here.

Ofcom introduces new licence: ‘Spectrum Access: EHF’

In January this year, Ofcom published proposals for increasing terrestrial access to three spectrum bands in the 100-200 GHz range (116-122 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz and 185-190 GHz), currently used by Earth Exploration Satellite Services.  This was followed by a further consultation in May covering the technical analysis. Ofcom has set out its decision to introduce the new licence which can be applied for through Ofcom’s website, from today. (more…)

Telecoms Diversification Task Force

A new taskforce, the Telecoms Diversification Task Force, has been set up to support the development and implementation of the government’s forthcoming strategy on the UK’s telecoms supply chain – aimed at reducing the reliance on high-risk vendors and bring more players into the market. Lord Livingston will lead the taskforce as Chair, with members from industry (Vodafone, Openreach, Copper Horse, BSI) and academic experts from Universities of Surrey and Bristol. Technical Director of NCSC and Ofcom’s Director of Emerging Technology will provide technical advice.  (more…)

Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report – Summer 2020

Ofcom has published its interim report which states that full fibre broadband is now available to over 4.2 million UK homes (14%), an increase of 670,000 (2%) since January. This is a result of increased rollout from the expansion of existing broadband networks as well as companies building entirely new fibre networks.

The UK Government recently announced that almost 500,000 premises across the UK have been connected to gigabit-capable broadband since summer 2018 as a result of a £1 billion government funding commitment that runs until the end of 2021, with a further £5 billion earmarked for the hardest-to-reach areas. Government has also launched a new taskforce – GigaTAG – to encourage further take-up of gigabit broadband services. (more…)

Launch of Government’s National Data Strategy

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced Government’s National Data Strategy to drive growth, boost innovation, create new jobs and improve public services. Government will develop a clear policy framework to determine what interventions are needed to unlock the value of data across the economy and help drive the recovery from Covid-19. It proposes an overhaul in the use of data across the public sector and a programme of work will be launched that will transform the way data is managed, used, shared internally within government, and with wider public sectors organisations. (more…)

Release of 700 MHz spectrum band for 4G and 5G mobile use

One of Government’s major infrastructure projects – the clearance of 700 MHz spectrum airwaves – has  been delivered, allowing it to be used for 5G services and 4G rural mobile coverage.

On 20 August Ofcom announced that it had completed the work which began in 2017. This involved moving Freeview TV channels out of the 700 MHz spectrum band and re-tuning TV equipment in millions of homes, 99% of which was done by viewers themselves. Arqiva carried out the engineering necessary to change the frequencies on which transmitters were operating. TV broadcasters, Digital UK and Freeview, and Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) were all heavily involved. (more…)

Wholesale Voice Markets Review 2021–26

As we move away from traditional analogue landline voice calls over the next five years, IP is expected to become the main method of interconnection. Ofcom is reviewing several markets, looking ahead to how competitive conditions may change over the period, how they could affect the retail and wholesale markets and the factors likely to influence their competitive development. (more…)

Almost 500,000 premises across the UK are now connected to gigabit-capable broadband

Government announced that almost half a million premises are now connected to a gigabit-capable network, which is part of the £1 billion government funding commitment until the end of 2021. A further £5 billion funding will help the hardest-to-reach areas. 45,000 vouchers, worth more than £90 million, were issued to help cover the costs of delivering gigabit speeds directly to people’s homes and businesses. Counting commercial investment, more than 7.5 million premises can now access gigabit-capable broadband, compared to around 1.4 million premises in 2018. (more…)

Government announces £1.3bn investment to deliver homes, infrastructure and jobs

The funding announced by MHCLG and BEIS will provide up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and upgrade skills and infrastructure to help fuel a green economic recovery.

A new £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements of over 600,000 homes. Over 300 successful “shovel-ready” projects in England will receive a share of the £900m Getting Building Fund to build homes and infrastructure. A further £360m investment will deliver 26,000 new homes on brownfield land and £8 million of funding will help speed up the delivery of the new homes on brownfield sites. Government is inviting bids from the Mayoral Combined Authorities for the remaining £40 million of the fund. (more…)

Open Communications – Enabling people to share data with innovative services

In Ofcom’s consultation the potential uses and benefits of Open Communications are explored and how it could best work for people and businesses. In particular, how to enable consumers and small businesses to share information about their services with third parties of their choice easily and securely. In 2019, the Government’s Smart Data Review proposed to introduce Open Communications through legislation, to stimulate innovation and promote the development of new services that improve outcomes. Responses to this consultation will help to inform Government thinking on the future development of Open Communications.

BSG held an online workshop in June with industry, Ofcom and Government to discuss initial thinking in this area. (more…)