Consultations

Gigabit plans for Scotland

Under Project Gigabit which was announced today, the UK government has pledged a further £2 million to extend investment to NHS Scotland sites in isolated areas of the country.

91 GP surgeries and community hospitals in rural parts of Scotland – including remote island services on Arran, Jura, Lewis, Mull, Shetland and Orkney – will benefit from gigabit broadband upgrades. A further £1 million has also been pledged to extend full fibre to even more schools, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries across the Highlands. Public buildings will have faster internet speeds from a £7.3 million total investment through the government’s Local Full Fibre Networks scheme. In the northern isles of Yell and Unst in Shetland, work as part of a £2 million project to connect 21 schools, council buildings and other public sites to fibre broadband has now been completed. Up to 37 sites are expected to receive connections in March with all due to completed by March 2022.  (more…)

Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill passes through Parliament

The Telecoms Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill has successfully passed through parliament and is set to become law.

As a reminder, the Bill was introduced in late 2019 with the aim of allowing fixed broadband providers to gain access to multiple dwelling buildings (blocks of residential flats and apartments) in order to deploy, upgrade or maintain fixed-line broadband connections where a landlord has repeatedly failed to respond. The forthcoming law will place an obligation on landlords, via the Electronic Communications Code, to facilitate the deployment of digital infrastructure and enable providers to use magistrates courts to gain entry to properties.

In parallel, the consultation on further potential changes to the Electronic Communications Code is is underway on whether to make further changes to help improve the process between landowners and providers.

 

UK Gigabit Programme: Cumbria Public Review

As part of the UK Gigabit Programme, BDUK has issued a request for information on a new procurement to extend coverage of gigabit-capable broadband across Cumbria. Last November BDUK conducted an Open Market Review (OMR) which requested information from suppliers regarding details and supporting evidence of any current or planned investment over the next three years in broadband infrastructure in the county. The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband will reach approximately 141,034 premises within the next three years, and will leave the remaining 143,864 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband. (more…)

Ofcom consultation on new residential broadband switching process

Ofcom is consulting on new plans for a new ‘one touch’ switching process to make it easier for all residential broadband customers to switch service across different providers.

Following an Ofcom rule change in 2015, customers switching between providers such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk on Openreach’s copper network can already follow a process where the gaining provider manages the switch. This latest proposal is to enable switching across different networks, for example, from a provider using the Openreach network to one using CityFibre’s, or from Virgin Media to Hyperoptic. Industry has been working to design this process for residential customers who want to switch fixed voice and broadband services. (more…)

Next steps in Government’s £5 billion gigabit broadband plan

DCMS has launched a technical consultation on its draft procurement strategy for the UK Gigabit Programme setting out plans to connect the first one million homes and businesses and maximise coverage in the hardest to reach 20% of the UK by 2025. The consultation seeks views to help target delivery of the programme, which includes demand-led approaches such as the voucher scheme and the new ‘outside-in’ supply-side interventions. The new procurements for gigabit infrastructure will begin in Spring 2021 and build is expected to begin at the end of 2021/early 2022.

(more…)

GigaTAG interim report

BSG is a member of the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) which is looking into how to stimulate demand among consumers and businesses for gigabit-capable broadband. The GigaTAG has drawn upon our report by WIK-Consult ‘Moving to a fibre-enabled UK: International experiences on barriers to gigabit adoption‘.

Following an earlier consultation, the GigaTAG has published its interim report which is open for consultation until 05 February 2021.

 

Ofcom’s proposed workplan 2021/22

Ofcom is consulting on its draft 2021/22 Plan of Work which sets out its proposed strategic priorities and includes the following:

  • Investment in strong, secure networks

Supporting ongoing investment in faster broadband and better-quality mobile networks and working with industry to ensure they are safe, secure and resilient.

  • Getting everyone connected

Working to ensure people and businesses can access key communications services – including in the hardest to reach locations. It includes monitoring the delivery of the universal broadband service and the Shared Rural Network.  (more…)

Ofcom’s ten-year spectrum management strategy

Ofcom has published its consultation ‘Supporting the UK’s wireless future – Our spectrum management strategy for the 2020s’ setting out its plans to manage the use of the spectrum over the next ten years.

The proposals are grouped into three strategic themes:

  • Supporting wireless innovation
  • Licensing to fit local and national services
  • Promoting spectrum sharing

(more…)

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

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…)

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…)

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…)

Ofcom – Changes to WiFi, EECC update, Guidance for Vulnerable Customers and Call for Evidence on Emerging Technologies

Ofcom is making airwaves in the lower 6 GHz band available for WiFi services without the need for a licence, following a consultation earlier this year. The technical requirements for WiFi routers are also being amended to ease congestion and help meet the growing demand for wireless services now and in the future.

A further consultation on revised proposals to implement the new EECC has been launched, ahead of the final decisions due to be published in the autumn. These are (i) changes to the scope of the rules on annual best tariff information and (ii) revised definitions for ‘microenterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ customers and not-for-profit organisations. Deadline is 11 September. (more…)

Ofcom publications

Consultation: Copper retirement – process for determining when copper regulation can be removed (supplementary consultation to the WFTMR)

The consultation proposes to delay decisions about Openreach’s copper retirement process until after Ofcom has determined the outcome of the WFTMR. Justification is that Openreach’s fibre roll-out is still in its early stages and Ofcom would prefer to wait for more details on the Salisbury and Mildenhall trials.  The consultation period ends on 3 September and the outcome of the WFTMR is due to be published in Q4 2020/21.  (more…)