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Ofcom to Target Better UK Mobile and Broadband Cover in 2019-20

Monday, December 3rd, 2018 (12:08 pm) - Score 1,053
ofcom uk telecoms regulator

Ofcom has today launched a new consultation on their annual plan for 2019/20, which summarises all of the major work they intend to do next year (e.g. improving mobile coverage, new consumer protections, deciding which ISPs will deliver the 10Mbps USO for broadband and promoting investment in “fibre” networks etc.).

The plan doesn’t contain any big surprises for those familiar with the industry, although the regulator did note that their provisional budget for the coming year is £124.2m and this remains the same as last year (the regulator said it would “absorb the effects of inflation by delivering efficiency savings“).

Otherwise the consultation is open for feedback until 8th February 2018 and Ofcom will hold a number of related public events in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff in early 2019 to hear directly from industry and the general public. We’ve also published a summary of their plans for improving the universal availability of broadband and mobile networks below.

Moving towards universal availability of high quality and secure communication networks

3.4 Moving towards universality of broadband and mobile services.

• We have an ambition to see universal coverage of communications services, working with others, including governments and industry where necessary, to progress this. We will ensure the universality of broadband services by designating broadband universal service provider(s) (USPs) and setting out the conditions that will apply to them. This will help those who cannot currently get decent broadband. We will publish a statement on this in Q1.

• In the coming year and in addition to our planned award of radio spectrum, we will explore a range of technologies and policy options that could help improve mobile coverage, particularly for consumers in rural areas. We will publish a statement in Q2 on potential spectrum-based solutions to improving coverage both indoors and in rural communities. We will also look at how mobile coverage can be measured and reported more clearly to consumers.

3.5 Promoting investment in fibre networks.

This will include work to support long-term investment in fibre networks to encourage competition and innovation. We will publish a statement in Q2 regarding our assessment of the market for physical infrastructure, with a view to introducing an unrestricted duct and pole access remedy.

3.6 Supporting improvement in the quality of mobile services.

We will prepare to award spectrum bands (700 MHz and 3.6 – 3.8 GHz) as they are cleared and released. We will continue to develop proposals for new licence obligations that would require improvements in mobile coverage in rural areas, linked to the award of the 700 MHz spectrum band. A statement will be published in Q3, with auction applications expected to begin in December 2019.

3.7 Preparing for the launch of 5G mobile services.

We will improve our understanding of the regulatory implications of introducing 5G technologies. This will include understanding the implications of implementing network slicing under net neutrality regulations, to explore using 5G technologies to provide fixed wireless services and engaging with consumers and businesses on the benefits of 5G services. We will also work to understand the signal strengths required to deliver good coverage across the full range of 5G services. We will provide regulatory support for industry testing and early deployments throughout the year, to ensure good outcomes for UK industry and consumers.

3.8 Building cyber-security capability and continuing to ensure communication providers are managing security risks and achieving appropriate levels of resilience.

We will implement the Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulations, which place legal obligations on providers to protect UK critical services. DCMS are completing their two pilots of the ‘TBEST’ scheme – a threat intelligence-led penetration scheme which assesses how well a company stands up to a concerted attack based on the techniques known to be used by cyber criminals and hostile nation states. Once these are complete, we will launch our TBEST scheme in early-2019. In addition, we plan to launch a security compliance assessment framework in early 2019.

The final plan is due to be published in March 2019 and we don’t expect any major changes. All of this is very much routine. The consultation also covers other areas, such as broadcast regulation and post services etc.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Meadmodj

    Let’s be clear. Ofcom don’t actually DO anything. Network providers that actually invest in kit and services do and any subsidies come from Government via the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

    Ofcom’s job is to create the correct environment and I have my own views regarding that.

  2. Michael V

    We go thru this every year. Three & EE share infrastructure & costs. Vodafone & O2 also do. With the introduction of VoLTE, coverage is so much better than what it used to be. Ofcom need to realise that the barriers are councils & the public with objections to cell sites. I’d happily have one put up in the lane I live in. Britain & Northern Ireland with never have blanket coverage. Stop all this talk of flaunting money & address the real issues.
    Rant over.

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