July 27, 2020
Following consultation, the Government has now set out how it plans to implement the EECC, which updates the existing telecoms regulatory framework in the EU.
The Government says that while the EECC largely consists of minor changes, it will bring in some new pro-investment measures from the EECC that are in the UK’s national interest and will support its plans for nationwide gigabit broadband. Other measures will give people and businesses greater consumer protection and ensure Ofcom’s regulatory powers are up to date.
They include, but are not limited to:
- network forecasting: new powers for Ofcom to gather information on operators’ planned network rollout. Ofcom will share this information with the government to allow better targeting of public investment in poorly connected areas. It will also publish non-confidential data about where rollout is not planned to help inform industry investment;
- a focus on gigabit-capable networks: a new broad duty for Ofcom to promote connectivity, access to, and take-up of gigabit-capable networks;
- promoting cooperation and competition in hard to reach places: in areas where it is costly or difficult to install new networks, such as urban blocks of flats and rural locations, Ofcom will have the power to impose obligations on operators already present to offer network access or to share equipment such as mobile masts with other operators;
- pro-investment regulation: Ofcom’s market review period will be increased from three to five years, which the Government says will give a longer period of regulatory stability to the telecoms market and more certainty for investors in gigabit broadband;
- easier switching for consumers: currently, when switching broadband providers, consumers need to liaise with their old and their new provider and juggle the relevant old service end dates and the start dates for new services. Under these changes, they will be able to contact their new provider, who will lead and co-ordinate the switching process so it is as smooth as possible and with minimal loss of service; and
- better regulation of bundles: consumers on bundled contracts, which include mobile and broadband and also other services, such as video and music streaming, will be able switch providers more easily. This means they will avoid being locked into bundled contracts if, for example, providers make changes to their contracts, or something goes wrong with just one service in the bundle.