What changes have Ofcom got coming for 2018? How will they effect your business?
Ofcom published a list of changes it plans for 2017 and 2018. Its main aim is to ensure people and businesses in the UK get the best value from the communication services they choose. Ofcom intends to do this by encouraging competition amongst service providers, protecting the customer from harmful practices and improving standards by ensuring quality communication services.
Ofcom identified three key areas for the coming year. The first is to implement the conclusions of its Strategic Review of Digital Communications. This will ensure the delivery of better broadband and phone services, while at the same time ensuring consumers and businesses have more choices to make. The second is to complete the integration of their new responsibilities for regulating the BBC. The last key area is to award 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz, which will increase the capacity of mobile networks in the UK.
— Ofcom (@Ofcom) June 28, 2017
Ofcom’s continued implementation of conclusions of their Strategic Review of Digital Communications will ensure the communication market in the UK can serve everyone over the next 10 years and beyond. Ofcom aims to further reform its governance of Openreach, the network of BT, which owns majority of the country’s broadband network. This will ensure it acts more independently from the BT Group, and thus makes decisions for the better good of the wider telecoms industry. Ofcom is also trying to make it easy for BT’s competitors to invest in their own advanced technology. In addition, Ofcom is also considering whether it is now appropriate to regulate BT’s wholesale prices as a means of promoting choice and availability.
Changes scheduled by Ofcom in 2018
From 2017 and 2018, Ofcom plans to start publishing tables that show the quality of communication providers, which will highlight the best and worst performers depending on a range of measures. This is to ensure shoppers can comfortably navigate the market knowing the quality, availability and prices of the communication services available. In addition, Ofcom plans on regularly updating their interactive maps to offer the consumer more information on network coverage.
Ofcom understand that some people may feel the need to switch between providers for a variety of reasons. This is why they plan on making it easier for consumers to switch between broadband, landline and pay TV services.
— Ofcom (@Ofcom) July 6, 2017
Regulation of BBC is also on top on the plans Ofcom is making for 2017 and 2018. It is Ofcom’s responsibility to implement a new approach of assessing the performance of BBC. It aims to do this by assessing BBC’s distinctiveness of its output, its obligations for serving the whole of UK and reflecting the diversity of all four nations in the UK.
Ofcom aims to make phone and internet services accessible by everyone in the UK. This will also include those in rural or remote areas. It will do this by collaborating with the government to ensure the universal right of citizens for decent and affordable broadband connection is met. In addition, Ofcom aims at introducing measures that are designed to ensure phone and broadband companies provide quality services. It will also place tougher requirements on Openreach, to ensure they comply to minimum requirements when repairing faults and installing new lines more quickly. Companies will also be required to provide automatic compensation to their customers when their services do not meet the required standards.
Stay ahead of the curve
Ofcom has the role of protecting consumers from offensive content and harmful practices. It aims to continue with this oversight role and to start investigating complaints made against the BBC for its accuracy and impartiality for the first time this year.
Ofcom plans on reducing nuisance calls that affect millions of phone users in the UK. It will do this by supporting industries to block nuisance calls at the network level. Ofcom actively monitors the markets that it regulates and enforces rules applying to all communications providers. It will continue with this role and promises to address harmful practices swiftly and firmly, even if it means fining companies.
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— Ofcom (@Ofcom) July 6, 2017
Ofcom plans to further devolve its services to Norther Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This will bring changes to the board over the coming year, with each of the devolved administration members appoint a new board member. In addition, Ofcom plans on sharing and consulting with the devolved governments their strategic priorities and providing evidence to the committees of Northern Ireland’s assembly, the Scottish parliament and the National Assembly of Wales.
Ofcom will ensure they continue honouring the plans set out by the government in 2015 of reducing public finances. While it can be proud of delivering 12 years of like-for-like real terms budget reductions, it plans to further reduce spending when it can. Ofcom has set a budget of £120.5m for 2017/2018. This is inclusive of capacity for its new responsibilities in regulating the BBC. With disregard to its new responsibilities, this budget represents a 1.8% real terms reduction from the 2016/2017 financial year.
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