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UK ISP Association Calls on Ofcom to Revise their Annual Plan

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 (11:20 am) - Score 720
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The UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has today said they’re “disappointed” with Ofcom’s Annual Plan for 2019/20 because it “completely overlooked” some important areas. The plan summarises all of the major work the regulator intends to do (e.g. improving broadband cover and consumer protections).

The first draft of Ofcom’s plan was published at the end of last year and didn’t include any particular surprises. A strong focus was given to pushing for universal (USO) broadband and mobile availability, as well as promoting investment in new “full fibre” (FTTP) networks and improving consumer protections.

The final plan is due to be published in March 2019 but it now looks as if, in its current form at least, it might not have support from the ISPA and their 200 or so members (including large consumer providers like BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband and lots of smaller or alternative network providers).

The ISPA’s full response to Ofcom’s consultation can be found here. Broadly speaking the organisation feels as if Ofcom lacks a comprehensive understanding of the business ISP market (they point to the adoption of inconsistent definitions of business customers across market interventions), must be clear on their plans for regulating the industry post-Brexit and should consider a more targeted (less general) intervention in the consumer market etc.

Andrew Glover, Chair of the ISPA, said:

“Ofcom’s Annual Plan comes at a hugely important time for the industry. As we move into the next phase of digital infrastructure deployment, the entire industry looks to Ofcom to ensure this vision is delivered.

ISPA is therefore disappointed that a number of important areas are completely overlooked in the proposed Annual Plan. Although there are several proposals in the Plan which ISPA support and looks forward to working on with Ofcom, a lot of key areas would benefit from greater emphasis over the next year.

ISPA believes that it should be a priority for Ofcom to address these points in its revised Annual Plan:

· Ofcom should consider the business broadband market more thoroughly to develop a more well-rounded understanding of customers, their needs and the forces driving behaviour in this market. To do this effectively Ofcom should take steps to ensure that business connectivity is fully captured in its reporting.

· Measures to protect vulnerable customers should be targeted to benefit the section of the market they are intended to protect. This is closely linked to the need for consistency in the scope of definitions with reference to the business market. The level of protection needed by a vulnerable consumer and a business differ greatly, and Ofcom should target these measures appropriately.

· ISP would like Ofcom to consider in more detail how it can support the industry in adopting measures to facilitate infrastructure switching.

· ISPA wants greater clarification of Ofcom’s role in cyber security regulation as a Competent Authority in the NIS Directive, and on their plans for regulating the industry post-Brexit.”

Some areas, such as improvements in switching, are likely to be extremely difficult to tackle since a lot of the new networks being built today are physically separate and so building a streamlined system to tackle all of the various challenges involved with that won’t be easy. In the meantime switching between physically separate networks often involves a cancellation rather than direct migration process.

Meanwhile the ISPA remains “confident” that the aforementioned sticking points can be “easily resolved.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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