UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched a review of the fixed narrowband services markets. With its last examination of such services having produced publications in September 2009, February 2010 and July 2011, the watchdog’s latest proposals aim to regulate and promote competition in fixed line telephone calls for the three year period from October 2013 to September 2016. The watchdog will review ‘fixed narrowband telephony services’, including retail services, in particular voice telephone calls, and wholesale services such as call origination and call termination, offered between communication providers (CPs).
Ofcom has put forward a number of proposals, including: the removal of remaining regulation in the Hull area, where it says that, although KCOM Group’s market remains high in retail residential and retail business fixed calls, competition law should be sufficient to address any competition concerns; the relaxation of fixed line incumbent BT’s obligation to offer wholesale services, so that carrier pre-selection (CPS) is available only to CPs which offer both line rental and calls together; a requirement for wholesale call origination for calls to non-geographic numbers, until a separate review of this market is complete, and a cap on BT’s charges for retailing these services; and requirement that both BT and KCOM provide interconnect circuits to other CPs on request, though charge controls will only apply to BT. Alongside such plans, Ofcom has also set out plans to cap fixed termination rates (FTRs) at long-run incremental costs (LRIC).
The consultation on the proposals closes on 2 April 2013, and Ofcom has said it is seeking view from stakeholders on the issues. Further, it has stated its intention to finalise the review in time for any new rules, including any new network charge control (NCC) remedies, to take effect when the current NCC expires in September 2013.