In July Ofcom published its consultation document summarising the key factors of its review into the UK's digital communication markets.
The consultation follows Ofcom’s announcement in March of its “overarching review” of the UK’s broadband, mobile and fixed markets including a period of stakeholder engagement.
The review is Ofcom’s second major assessment of the wider telecommunications sector, the first of which was completed ten years ago. Ofcom’s aim is to ensure that the UK’s digital communications market across fixed, mobile and content continues to work for both consumers and businesses providing coverage, choice, affordable prices and quality of service.
Ofcom has set out its intention to assess the outcomes for consumers and businesses under four broad headings:
- Investment and innovation – ensuring that the UK is served by high-quality fixed and mobile telecoms with strong coverage even in rural areas. The review aims to look in detail at network availability; balancing network investment against the cost to customers.
- Sustainable competition – looking separately at the fixed and mobile markets with a view to promoting competition in the fixed market and sustaining effective competition in the mobile market.
- Empowered consumers – exploring ways in which help can be provided to consumers and businesses in light of the increasing choice when selecting communications services. This is particularly important given the increasing popularity of convergence, consolidation and bundling (ie fixed, mobile and pay TV).
- Targeted regulation where necessary – ensuring regulation adapts to new technologies, and identifying suitable opportunities for deregulation. Any deregulation will need to be carefully planned to ensure it does not create a risk of poor consumer outcomes.
Ofcom's consultation now seeks to consult with stakeholders more formally, and Ofcom has made clear that it welcomes the views of consumers, businesses, communications providers and public bodies, amongst others.
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 8 October 2015. These responses will inform a statement to be published at the beginning of 2016 setting out Ofcom’s regulatory approach for the next decade to communications regulation.