A Communication Review for the Digital Age: BT's Response
Issued 08 July 2011
BT is pleased to be able to contribute to the Government‟s early thinking in this Communications Review. The measured timescales of the review provide a much-needed opportunity to consider properly the underlying questions about the scope and purpose of regulation in an era of convergence.
Communications sectors are key enablers of economic progress. The UK has the advantage of one of the most competitive, efficient and dynamic sectors in the world. BT endorses the Government‟s objectives to promote the health of these sectors going forward.
In BT‟s view, the key contribution that this review could make to the achievement of those objectives is to ensure that there is an even-handed, objective and light touch regulatory regime that applies to all parts of the communications industry clearly and consistently. Such a regime would provide the foundation for fair competition and the encouragement of investment across converging communications markets for the benefit of the citizen / consumer.
The Communications Act combines a highly structured and intrusive regime for the regulation of telecommunications (and spectrum) under the EU Framework with a very heterogeneous ad hoc set of regimes for media sectors. At the same time there are a number of omissions related to activities that have emerged in importance since the Communications Act was propounded, particularly as regards the internet. What the review should aspire to achieve is a consistent ex-ante regulatory regime to promote competition and protect consumers in all media and communications sectors. The regulator should be vested with powers to act if markets require this, rather than an obligation to act. It should recognise the reality of convergence of markets which have superseded the narrow definitions enshrined in European Directives. And it should sweep away a panoply of legacy regulations that have outlived their relevance.