The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has set out its new strategic priorities for national telecoms regulator Ofcom, which it claims are designed to ‘support improved mobile coverage, broadband investment, and a better deal for consumers’. Further, the DCMS has suggested that the planned measures will be ‘instrumental’ in ensuring a state-set target of the UK having full fibre broadband coverage by 2033 is met, while they will also help increase geographic mobile coverage to 95% of the UK by 2022.
In its consultation, the strategic priorities set out by the British government for Ofcom include: the planned 700MHz spectrum auction; the tackling of the ‘loyalty penalty’, which sees customers that do not switch providers typically pay higher prices than those that do; the examination of the costs and benefits of options to introduce mobile roaming in rural areas; and the watchdog ensuring that regulation supports investment in reliable, gigabit-capable broadband networks across the country.
As per the Digital Economy Act of 2017, Ofcom is required to take account of the government’s Statement of Strategic Priorities (SSP) when carrying out its regulatory duties, and it was noted that this will bring the legislative framework for the telecoms watchdog in line with other sectors such as energy and water for the first time.
Commenting, DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Wright said: ‘As the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom has a critical role in realising our shared connectivity aspirations for the UK. As well as ensuring the necessary improvements to broadband and mobile services, consumers must also be protected. I urge Ofcom to tackle harmful business practices and remove barriers to switching.’