Since March 2020 telecoms providers and broadcasters have implemented measures to keep the UK connected. This includes additional help for vulnerable customers, NHS staff, care homes and hospitals. They have offered discounted broadband services or lifted the data caps, given free data packages on mobile, zero-rated websites, WiFi vouchers, paused charges for sports and other channels, and standalone education resources. (more…)
Evidence to the inquiry found little confidence that nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025 could be delivered, and MPs raised concerns that only 25% of the Government’s £5 billion to support roll-out to the hardest-to-reach premises will be made available during the period. The 4th report by the DCMS Select Committee says it would not be acceptable for Government to fail to meet the less ambitious target through lack of effective planning or inadequate investment. The report also finds the target for majority 5G coverage by 2027 ambitious given the ruling to ban the use of equipment by high-risk vendors.
This year’s Connection Nations Report states that despite the high demand throughout the pandemic leading to significant changes to the use of their services, the fixed and mobile networks have coped well. A shift to more people being at home drove increased demand on daytime home broadband traffic, and mobile networks saw record numbers of calls made during the first UK-wide lockdown. Both broadband and mobile services have remained resilient as networks put in place measures to manage the extra demand.
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 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
Government announced its £250m strategy setting out targeted plans to diversify the global telecoms supply market. It focuses on three key areas of activity:
- Supporting incumbent suppliers to ensure their resilience and ability to supply the market in the near term, while supporting their transition into the emerging market structure;
- attracting new suppliers into the UK market to build resilience and competition, prioritising deployments that are in line with government’s longer-term vision; and
- accelerating open-interface solutions and deployment so that the UK is not reliant on any single vendor and begins to realise the long term vision for a more open and innovative market.
In his Spending Review statement today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that borrowing is expected to reach £394bn for the current fiscal year (19% of GDP) which is the highest recorded level of borrowing in peacetime. He spoke of three priorities: getting the country through coronavirus, stronger public services and delivering record investment plans in infrastructure (including faster broadband for over five million premises in the UK and 4G mobile coverage to 95%). The government also confirmed £3bn for a three-year Restart programme to help a million people who have been unemployed for over a year to find jobs. A levelling up pot of £4bn will also be available for local infrastructure projects. (more…)
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:
Ofcom has published its second ‘Mobile Matters‘ report, which analyses how around 200,000 people used their Android mobile phones between January and April this year. Time spent on mobile calls rose significantly, as people turned to their phones to keep in touch with loved ones and work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The report reveals marked differences in how people used their phones before and during the initial lockdown period, with the average mobile call in the initial weeks lasting around five and a half minutes – nearly two minutes more than before the social and working restrictions began. (more…)
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…)
Ofcom has published its Communications Market Report.
Revenue from telecoms contributed £32 billion to the UK economy in 2019. Retail fixed and mobile generated £13.4 billion and the remainder was from wholesale revenues. Ofcom also reported that 80% of households have a fixed broadband connection and 98% have a mobile phone. (more…)
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 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…)
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…)
The UK regulator has confirmed plans to auction important airwaves to help improve mobile broadband and support the rollout of 5G, announcing it will release more airwaves, with bidding set to start in January 2021.
The auction will increase the total amount of spectrum available for mobile in the UK by nearly a fifth (18%) – helping improve mobile services and give people better access to 5G. (more…)