Telcos Beware: The Digital Communications Market Is Under Scrutiny
Are you meeting the needs of consumers and businesses? Ofcom is gearing up to find out.
If you work in the broadband, mobile or landline markets you’ll be scrutinised by Ofcom, as the regulator has announced a strategic review of digital communications, to ensure that providers and services are actually meeting their customers’ needs.
The independent think-tank will examine competition, investment, innovation and the availability of products, which will help consider wider questions complementary to those addressed by its regular, three-yearly reviews of individual telecoms markets.
The new review will focus on three aspects in particular:
- ensuring the right incentives for private-sector investment, which can help to deliver availability and quality of service;
- maintaining strong competition and tackling obstacles or bottlenecks that might be holding the sector back; and
- identifying whether there is scope for deregulation in some areas.
This review will be Ofcom’s second major assessment of the wider telecommunications sector. The first began in December 2003 and led to new rules which allowed competing providers to access BT’s network, on equal terms, in order to offer phone and broadband services to consumers.
Other changes have included the removal of retail price controls on competitive telecoms services in 2006, rules to promote competition in superfast broadband in 2010, a cap on wholesale mobile rates in 2011 and a spectrum for 4G mobile services, with a rule to ensure at least 98 per cent of premises would benefit from the new technology, in 2013.
The first phase of the review will examine current and future market factors that may affect digital communications services, and current regulatory approaches.
This phase of the review is expected to conclude with a discussion document in summer 2015. Ofcom then expects to conclude the review’s second phase by outlining initial conclusions around the end of the year.
Steve Unger, Ofcom Acting Chief Executive, said: "We have seen huge changes in the phone and broadband markets since our last major review a decade ago. Only five years ago, hardly any of us had used a tablet computer, high-definition streaming or 4G mobile broadband.
"The boundaries between landline, mobile and broadband services continue to blur, and people are enjoying faster services on a growing range of devices.
"Our new review will mean Ofcom’s rules continue to meet the needs of consumers and businesses by supporting competition and investment for years to come."