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Introduction Tim O'Sullivan

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Ofcom’s Strategic Digital Communications Review  

BT welcomes Ofcom’s review of digital communications but argues that the current regulatory regime has led to the UK’s leadership in telecoms and that any new regime must ensure continued investment - as well as enable pay-TV customers to enjoy the same benefits they do for telecoms

Ofcom is to carry out an “overarching” review of the UK’s digital communications markets. The telecoms regulator is to examine competition, investment, innovation and availability of products in the broadband, mobile and landline markets.

Ofcom will work on the review with a range of stakeholders, including industry, consumer groups, UK government and devolved administrations. It expects to conclude the first phase with a discussion document and it will outline initial conclusions of the review’s second phase around the end of the year.

Ofcom wants to ensure that communications providers and services continue to meet the needs of consumers and businesses. The Strategic Review of Digital Communications will focus on:

The current telecoms regulatory regime has helped create the world's most competitive telecoms market, where prices are among the lowest, while speeds and availability of superfast services leads Europe's largest economies. It has been a huge success, delivering “innovative products, wider choice and lower prices for the UK,” according to Ofcom when it announced its review.

Future challenges and opportunities

There is massive growth in data demand, driven by services such as Skype, YouTube and internet TV such as Netflix. Data demand will go on growing exponentially. Customers want higher connection speeds; increased reliability; and ubiquitous connectivity with the ability to stream, download or connect wherever they are. Of course, they would like to see prices come down rather than go up while all this happens, especially given the industry’s recent record of providing more for less.

To meet this demand we have outlined our vision for Britain’s connected future. It’s a vision based on offering superfast speeds even more widely: 95% coverage, plus we are actively seeking solutions for the remaining 5% and are determined to work with every community to find a solution. We want to maximise people’s ability to access the internet - however, whenever and wherever they want, and at whatever speed they need.

buying EE infographic 

We want to deliver the best fixed and mobile networks, buying EE so that we can integrate our operations with theirs, with the efficiency gains helping to drive customer value. And we want to continue being the foundation stone for competition – it brings innovation and delivers for the UK. So our vision is based on continuing to ensure retail competitors can use the Openreach network and mobile ‘backhaul’ services on the same terms as BT itself.

In fact, we’d like yet more competition. We want the Ofcom regime extended to pay TV so that it covers Sky more fully and brings down prices in pay TV.

Ofcom’s latest review is an opportunity to ensure the UK continues to lead the way, and to ensure that UK customers are the best served anywhere in the world. It is critical to ensuring the stable regulatory regime required to ensure the sector continues to thrive. We want to see a positive regulatory communications regime that:

We hope the review results in a regime that suits the needs of consumers and will work closely with Ofcom to help ensure its discussions are well informed.


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