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Ofcom announces major review of UK digital communications

Steve Unger

Steve Unger

UK regulator Ofcom has announced an “overarching review of the UK’s digital communications markets.”

Ofcom’s Strategic Review of Digital Communications will examine competition, investment, innovation and the availability of products in the broadband, mobile and landline markets. The purpose is to ensure that communications providers and services continue to meet the needs of consumers and businesses.

The new review will consider a range of issues in the sector, but Ofcom anticipates that it will focus on three aspects in particular: ensuring the right incentives for private-sector investment; maintaining strong competition; and identifying whether there is scope for deregulation.

This review will be Ofcom’s second major assessment of the wider telecommunications sector. The first began in December 2003 and concluded in September 2005. It 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.

“We have seen huge changes in the phone and broadband markets since our last major review a decade ago, explains Steve Unger, Ofcom Acting Chief Executive. “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.”

Meanwhile, European broadcaster Sky has welcomed the announcement.

“The sector is vital to the UK’s future but there are serious questions about whether the existing structure can deliver the infrastructure, innovation and choice that consumers and businesses need,” says Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, Sky.”Structural separation of Openreach, the UK’s only nationwide broadband infrastructure, is at the heart of creating a sustainable industry; one that provides the capacity and incentive to invest whilst also harnessing the power of multiple competing retailers to drive higher take up and lower prices for customers.”

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