Regulator opens up consultation into high-speed broadband
Ofcom has launched an action plan to help UK consumers reap the full benefits of super-fast broadband.
Proposals from the communications regulator are designed to remove barriers to investment as well as ensure competition and consumer choice.
Although the regulator has said in the past it believes that a light regulatory environment is the best way to proceed, the proposals outlined in the consultation look at various issues. These include developing clear standards for wholesale products to ensure competition and giving providers pricing freedom where there is effective competition.
Because Ofcom wants to see a timely transition from current services delivered by copper wires to fibre optic cables and protection for consumers, it wants to have measures in place that will ensure continued availability of services.
It has also published a statement clarifying the regulations that ensure consumers moving into new housing developments where fibre is already being installed, will be able to choose from a variety of broadband suppliers.
Although Ofcom welcomed the recent recommendations in the Caio report, this review said it saw no current need for Government to provide finance for the deployment of next-generation broadband.
However, the Broadband Stakeholder Group has already said investing in the infrastructure is likely to cost up to £28bn. It warned that if left entirely to market forces, it is highly likely that remote rural areas may miss out.
Ofcom said it will therefore also look at the potential role for the public sector in targeting those locations where the market is least likely to deliver new networks.
Ofcom’s chief executive, Ed Richards, said: "I am delighted that investment in fibre is already under way (in places such as Wembley Park in London, Ebbsfleet in Kent, Titanic Quarter in Belfast and MediaCityUK in Salford, Manchester) and other plans are taking shape.
"Fibre networks are one of the most exciting developments in communications that the UK has ever seen. Ofcom’s plan of action will encourage further investment while promoting and sustaining competition so we can all benefit."
Comments about the proposals can be made online to Ofcom. A glossary explaining the terms and jargon used in the consultation is also available and Ofcom has set up a blog on next-generation broadband.
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