The UK Digital Economy Bill (see the Media section above for further details) also includes a number of new measures affecting the communications sector:

  • Ofcom: extending Ofcom’s role by adding new duties and reporting obligations to promote investment in communications infrastructure and in relation to public service content.
  • Spectrum in mobile telecoms: providing Ofcom with new powers to extend the term of the 3G mobile spectrum licences, to apply annual fees to spectrum licences that are awarded by auction and to impose financial penalties for licence breaches.

However, the Bill does not cover the outcome of the Independent Spectrum Broker’s report on the auctioning of the “Digital Dividend” (800 MHz) spectrum and the “‘Expansion Band” (2.6 GHz) and the “re-farming” of existing mobile spectrum. These proposals will be taken forward separately; the Government intends to implement the Independent Spectrum Broker’s proposals by providing directions to Ofcom in a statutory instrument, which the Secretary of State intended to be table in Parliament some time after the beginning of February. View Government’s consultation on the draft directions.

  • Next generation networks in fixed telecoms: The 50 pence per month tax on fixed copper line connections - proposed in the Digital Britain White Paper to support the universal roll-out of next generation broadband - is not covered by the Bill. It will be included in a Finance Bill, yet to be introduced.

View progress of the Bill and the draft Bill documents.