Ofcom review of UK digital communications market will look to maintain competition

Joe Hall
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Ofcom's conclusions will be published at the end of the year. (Source: Getty)
Media regulator Ofcom will review the UK’s digital communications market for the first time in a decade in order to ensure competition remains in a sector increasingly dominated by telecom giants.
Ofcom said its review will look to identify if there is scope for deregulation in “some areas” of the market and find the “right incentives for private-sector investment”.
Since 2005, when the regulator last completed its review of the wider telecommunications sector, the market has rapidly changed with providers now offering TV, internet and landline services on a growing range of platforms, known as "quadplay".
Recent regulatory measures have included a 2011 cap on wholesale mobile rates and 2010 rules to promote competition in superfast broadband.
An initial discussion document will be released this summer, while the second phase of the review outlining conclusions for the market will be released at the end of the year.
Ofcom’s acting chief executive Steve Unger commented:
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.
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.
Ofcom’s recent European Broadband Scorecard shows the UK also leads the EU’s five biggest economies on most measures of coverage, take-up, usage and choice for different kinds of broadband, and performs well on price.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said the time was right for Ofcom to take a look at the market:

The telecoms market is changing rapidly so it's right for Ofcom to review whether it's working for consumers, especially at a time when high profile mergers could result in less competition.

The review will cover essential services with low levels of consumer trust and satisfaction. Three-quarters of people are on the wrong mobile contract and nearly half aren't happy with their broadband speed. Ofcom must set out how it will deliver a better deal for consumers.

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