According to Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report 2020/21, the UK’s digital divide has narrowed over the last year as the proportion of homes without internet access reduced from 11% in March 2020 to 6% in March 2021 (though around 1.5m homes still remain offline). Adults with previously limited digital skills have embraced online shopping, digital banking and video calling friends and relatives – while younger people acted as IT support, helping older or less digitally-confident friends and relatives get connected. (more…)
Ofcom has launched a consultation which proposes the removal of the requirement to provide a local dialling facility and banning direct and indirect revenue-sharing across geographic and non-geographic number ranges. Local dialling is where a person makes a call from one landline to another landline in the same area without needing to dialling the area code. The migration to IP will affect all landline phone users and is fundamentally restructuring how voice services are provided across the UK. Revenue-sharing occurs where a phone company shares the revenue that it receives for terminating a call with a third party.
A joint technical consultation between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has been published today. It follows an earlier consultation in 2019 on the principle of the reforms. Views are being sought on proposed planning reforms that will allow the speedier deployment of telecoms equipment while keeping safeguards in place. (more…)
In November 2020 the government announced the establishment of a regulatory watchdog to enforce a new pro-competition regime covering platforms with considerable market power. The new Digital Markets Unit (DMU) has now been set up within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The new regulatory regime will require legislation to grant it full powers, and the government is expected to consult on proposals this year. In the meantime, it will sit within the CMA on a non-statutory basis. The recently published Terms of Reference set out the role. In the immediate term the focus of the DMU will be on the following: (more…)
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its 2020 report on Internet use in the UK. It is important to note that the data set used covers the period January – March 2020 so it is not possible to use the 2020 data to indicate changes in internet usage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (more…)
The Prime Minister and Digital Secretary met with the CEOs of the major broadband organisations today and praised the industry for creating more than 22,000 jobs over the last year. They welcomed the commitment from the organisations to help the nation build back better from the pandemic with gigabit broadband rollout, and underlined the government’s support to help industry’s efforts to connect as many homes and businesses as possible by 2025. The government has increased its forecast and new figures show rollout will reach 60 per cent by the end of 2021 (up from 50 per cent), putting the UK on track to be among the fastest build rates in Europe. (more…)
Ofcom has published how it will regulate the markets that underpin landline and mobile telephone calls in the UK, for the period 2021-26.
On call termination, Ofcom is capping termination rates for calls made and received in the UK, based on the cost of connecting a call.
- For calls to mobiles, the cap will be 0.379p per minute next year (lower than the current cap of 0.468p per minute).
- The same cap will continue to apply to calls to ‘070’ numbers.
- For calls to landlines, the current cap of 0.0292p per minute will continue to apply in real terms.
- Incoming calls to the UK from abroad should be no more than the rate they are charged when their customers make calls to that international destination.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today published a joint open letter to businesses on the Government’s Plan for Growth.
The Plan for Growth builds on the best of the Industrial Strategy from 2017 and supports the transition to net zero by 2050. It sets out the government’s path to invest in three pillars – infrastructure, skills, and innovation. The focus is creating and supporting jobs, helping to drive growth, and seizing opportunities from Britain’s independence. The Build Back Better Business Council has been convened to draw on the expertise of industry and government to ensure that the plan for growth is delivered successfully and in partnership with business. Today’s meeting will look at the innovation pillar and will discuss the government’s upcoming Innovation Strategy, due to be published in the Summer. (more…)
Following consultation in December, Ofcom has published its final Plan of Work for 2021/22, outlining its priorities for the next financial year. As part of Ofcom’s preparations for taking on new online safety responsibilities, Ofcom will open a new digital and technology hub in Manchester in summer 2021. (more…)
Following the announcement of the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz band principal stage winners, Ofcom has confirmed that the auction has moved into a period of negotiation. Bidders have the opportunity to negotiate the frequency positions among themselves in order to facilitate trades to join together the frequencies they have secured with spectrum they already hold in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band.
The first phase of this negotiation period runs until 16 April 2021. If a second phase is required, this is expected to take place between 19 and 23 April 2021.
The Building Digital UK (BDUK) team has launched an Open Market Review (OMR) request for information (RFI) to help identify areas needing government intervention. This follows an earlier OMR and RFI for Cumbria. Early market research is an essential part of the team’s engagement with industry to shape public investment. The results of this OMR will provide a better understanding of the broadband infrastructure already in place, and where there are plans for investment over the next three years. The RFI will enable BDUK to make a significant step in the design of the areas to be targeted by the new procurements and contracts. (more…)
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…)
The government has announced ‘Project Gigabit’, its mission to deliver gigabit-capable broadband across the UK. The project will be a series of phases, with the first phase providing one million hard-to-reach buildings with gigabit coverage and new funding for gigabit vouchers. An extra £210 million worth of vouchers will be released to help those with slow speeds, and another £110 million will connect up to 7,000 rural GP surgeries, libraries and schools. Up to 510,000 homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the first to benefit as part of the project, with contracts for these first areas going to tender in the spring. (more…)