Ofcom

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…)

Ofcom customer service updates

New research published by Ofcom highlights which phone and broadband companies are setting the industry standard for good customer service in the UK.

Sharing the data, based on company performance up to January 2020, therefore before the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Ofcom’s fourth annual Comparing Customer Service report shows that overall, 85% of broadband customers say they are satisfied with their service. Specifically, the report looks at how each of the major telecoms providers performed in 2019 on measures including customer complaints received, value for money and overall customer satisfaction. (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 confirms plans for spectrum auction in January 2021

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…)

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…)

European Electronic Communications Code

Government has set out how it will bring the EECC into UK law. The code largely consists of changes to the existing legal framework but government will also bring in some new pro-investment measures from the code that are in the UK’s national interest and support its plans for nationwide gigabit broadband. Other measures give people and businesses greater consumer protection and Ofcom will be granted a series of new powers.  (more…)

DCMS Select Committee report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’

The Online Harms White Paper published in April 2019 proposed a duty of care on tech companies and an independent Online Harms Regulator. The DCMS Select Committee opened an inquiry in March this year calling for evidence to help understand the causes and impact of COVID-19 and how it can be tackled.

On 16 July, the Committee published a report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’ which sets out some recommendations.  On 5G specifically, the report mentions written evidence from BT stated that between 23 March and 23 April there were 30 separate attempts of sabotage on the UK’s digital infrastructure and around 80 attacks across sites operated by all four mobile networks, with 19 occurring near critical infrastructure such as fire, police and ambulance stations. EE personnel and subcontractors faced 70 separate incidents, including threats to kill and vehicles driven directly at staff.  (more…)

Ofcom report – Monitoring compliance with the EU Net Neutrality regulation

The EU Regulation on open internet access (the Open Internet Regulation) requires the safeguarding of equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic and related end-users’ right when providing internet access services. BEREC recently published guidelines on the implementation by national regulators of European net neutrality rules, which requires regulatory authorities such as Ofcom to apply the regulation in a consistent manor. Ofcom must also publish regular reports. The latest report covers the year ending April 2020.  (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…)