On 10 July, Ofcom published their Annual Report and Accounts for the year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. This was a significant financial year for Ofcom. Required by the Government to implement a 28.2 per cent reduction in budget over four years, the regulators have front-loaded the majority of the cuts into the first year. The report confirms that personnel resources have been hit hard with a reduction of almost 100 employees.
Preparation for the auction of the 600MHz, 800 MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands was Ofcom’s biggest project by far over the 12 months. Expenditure on spectrum clearance and awards ahead of the auction exceeded £47 million, funded by grant-in-aid from central government. The auction is anticipated at the end of 2012.
The report focuses in particular on the roll-out of superfast broadband over the year by BT and Virgin Media. Ofcom point to their role in regulating access to duct and pole infrastructure, which they envisage will be used in conjunction with funding from DCMS to further extend the reach of next generation networks.
Ofcom note the consumer protection measures they have taken. These include the introduction of regulation to prevent automatically renewable contracts and continued work to reduce the mis-selling of landline services.
Certain future projects highlighted in the report are likely to bring significant changes in the coming year: the 4G spectrum auction; potential mobile roaming price caps and other measures to address mobile customer “bill shock”; and sweeping changes to the non-geographic numbering regime, including proposals to make 0800 numbers free-to-caller from mobiles.
Click here to view the Ofcom Annual Report and Accounts.