Ofcom to review UK's digital communications market

UK's communications regulator Ofcom announced it will conduct a detailed review of all digital communications in the country, as a response to "huge changes“ in the way people use digital services.

Last time Ofcom did such a review was ten years ago, in 2005.

The review will examine everything from competition to investment, to innovation across mobile, landline and broadband markets.

"Key to this will be how incentives for efficient investment and effective competition drive good outcomes. These outcomes include coverage, choice, price and quality of service for consumers, citizens and businesses. It will cover both fixed and wireless networks and services, and take account of alternative services delivered over the internet (‘over-the-top’),“ the watchdog says.

The review will have at least two main phases. Phase one will focus on evidence gathering and understanding experiences of digital communications. Building on stakeholder responses to this discussion document, the second phase will draw initial conclusions and set out a clear plan for next steps.

"We have seen huge changes in the phone and broadband markets since our last major review a decade ago. Only five years ago, hardly any of us had used a tablet computer, high-definition streaming or 4G mobile broadband," said Ofcom acting chief executive Steve Unger.

"The boundaries between landline, mobile and broadband services continue to blur, and people are enjoying faster services on a growing range of devices. Our new review will mean Ofcom’s rules continue to meet the needs of consumers and businesses by supporting competition and investment for years to come."

Phase one of the review is expected to be completed in summer 2015, and phase two around the end of 2015.

UPDATE: Antony Walker, deputy CEO of techUK commented: “We welcome Ofcom’s announcement that it is to conduct an overarching review of the UK’s digital communications markets.

"The UK has a world class communications network, which is vital to supporting the growth of our digital economy. To maintain our leadership position, a supportive policy and regulatory environment is needed to encourage ongoing investment and innovation. That’s why we’re particularly pleased to see that Ofcom’s review will include ensuring the right incentives for investment.

“In our Manifesto we highlighted the importance of ensuring ubiquitous world class communications infrastructure for the UK to sustain growth and maintain its position as a world leading internet economy and developer of digital content.”

“We’re delighted this has been recognised by Ofcom and we look forward to engaging with the review.”