Ofcom published a report that looks at some of the emerging technologies that could shape the way we live, communicate and entertain ourselves in the future. The report highlights potential future developments such as innovative technologies to help providers roll out better mobile and broadband services by using automation and robots, satellite technology that could be used to provide connections for people who live in hard-to-reach areas, developments in the broadcast sector, such as enhanced, bespoke coverage of sporting events, and new immersive technologies that bring a sensory element to communications services.
As part of the £200m 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, the Government has announced a further nine UK technology trials under the 5G Create scheme, reflecting a total investment of £28.3m (comprising £15.2m from the Government and £13.1m from the project partners) to help test various new 5G based broadband and wireless technologies. More than half of the projects in this round will use new OpenRAN technology and support greater diversification in the 5G supply chain.
The test projects include improving fan experiences at O2 arena and MK Dons stadium and trialling 5G-powered cargo ports and boosting tourism sites such as the Eden Project. The BBC series Green Planet will also use 5G through a new augmented reality app, fronted by Sir David Attenborough. The app has been developed by a consortium of leading creative and technology firms, including EE. (more…)
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published its report Improving Broadband. It states that the revised target of at least 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 is challenging and there is a risk that the very hardest to reach premises will be struggling with slow broadband for many years to come. Other concerns include the lack of detail about how the £1.2bn of the £5bn funding will be used to support the roll-out to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the UK’s 31m premises, and the slow progress in delivering the policy and legislative changes sought by industry. The report sets out the PAC’s conclusions and recommendations.
It is worth noting that gigabit-capable broadband networks (FTTP and DOCSIS 3.1) now cover 37.4% of UK premises, which is an increase from 22.1% six months ago. (more…)
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…)
The UK and European Union finally agreed on a deal that will define the future relationship.
Briefly, on tariffs, there will be 100% liberalisation – zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin. A broad range of other areas such as investment, competition, state aid, tax transparency and data protection is covered, as well as the ability for the UK’s continued participation in several flagship EU programmes for the period 2021-2027, subject to a financial contribution by the UK to the EU budget. Cooperation on foreign policy, external security or defence are not included.
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.
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.
The UK is undergoing a fundamental re-evaluation of the value that telecoms bring to the UK economy. The pandemic has consolidated the pivotal role that digital connectivity plays in underpinning the economy and wider society. Broadband and mobile connectivity have been the backbone of the accelerated drive to digital adoption, as the paper by Robert Kenny of Communications Chambers sets out. (more…)
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.
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.
In October Ofcom confirmed a package of rules to implement the EECC covering landline, broadband, mobile, and pay-TV. Ofcom also consulted on several minor, consequential changes to the General Conditions of Entitlement, as well as changes to reflect the end of the transition period under the EU Withdrawal Agreement.
In a statement published today, Ofcom confirmed that the majority of minor changes to the General Conditions, Metering and Billing Direction and National Telephone Numbering Plan will come into effect in December 2021. However, the changes that reflect the end of the transition period under the EU Withdrawal agreement will come into force on 31 December this year.
In the new year, Ofcom plans to consult on a process for residential customers switching voice and/or broadband services, and will separately be providing an update on its work with the industry on the availability of a video relay service for British Sign Language users to enable effective communication with the emergency services.
The government’s digital strategy recognises the increased importance of digital technology and data in people’s lives and wants the UK to maximise the benefits of a tech-led recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the earlier consultation on the Online Harms White Paper, a new regulatory framework has been announced by Secretary of State for DCMS and Secretary of State for the Home Department. A new Online Safety Bill will be published in 2021 and Ofcom will be named as the new online harms regulator.
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