Secretary of State formally designates Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications, the management of radio spectrum, and postal services

The Statement of Strategic Priorities, which was designated on 29 October 2019, sets out the Government’s strategic priorities and desired outcomes in a number of areas, including gigabit-capable broadband deployment, 5G, spectrum management, the security and resilience of telecoms infrastructure, and furthering the interests of telecoms consumers.

The Statement follows a statutory consultation that ran between 15 February and 27 March 2019.

The Statement sets out targets for the availability of new digital networks in the UK, including:

  • nationwide deployment of gigabit-capable broadband networks at pace;
  • increasing mobile coverage to 95% of the UK by 2022 to address “not-spots”;
  • improving connectivity on the UK’s main roads and railways; and
  • becoming a world leader in the next generation of 5G mobile technology, with deployment to the majority of the country by 2027.

The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) set out the changes that need to be made to the UK telecoms market and policy framework to help secure world-class digital infrastructure. The FTIR’s conclusions support the UK Digital Strategy and underpin the UK’s modern Industrial Strategy. The FTIR’s recommendations form the basis of the Statement of Strategic Priorities.

The power for the Government to designate a Statement of Strategic Priorities was introduced by the Digital Economy Act 2017. This is the first time the Government is exercising this power.

Ofcom must have regard to the statement when exercising its regulatory functions. However, the Government says that if Ofcom is unable to consider regulatory options that would contribute to achieving the strategic priorities set out in the Statement due to the existing statutory framework, the Government will consider bringing forward legislation to allow it to do so. To access the Statement, click here.