Have your say on proposed new duties for Ofcom
If you are not on the list of people to be consulted over the proposed new powers for Ofcom and many broadband providers are not then now is your chance. The full consultation document is on the Department for Business Innovation & Skills website, the process started on 13th August 2009 and ends 25th September 2009, with responses published on 16th October 2009.
The consultation is aimed at consulting on the idea that Ofcom be given new remits with respect to the communications industry:
- Promote efficient investment in communications infrastructure; and
- Provide a full assessment of UK communications infrastructure every two years and to alert Secretaries of State to any matters of high concern regarding developments affecting the communications infrastructure.
The consultation is taking place as the Government considers that the current Ofcom powers have tended to emphasis short term cost reduction rather than longer term investment in future infrastructure. In laymans terms this can be read as meaning that while Ofcom has managed to make UK broadband very cheap, in comparison to other countries investment in improving networks is lacking, i.e. networks are not expanding to cope with increased usage and newer technologies are delayed as they would raise prices in the short to medium term.
The UK is unusual in that while it has massive competition at the retail level across the country and at the wholesale level in the more densely populated parts, there is little competition at the infrastructure level, e.g. all DSL still travels across an Openreach local loop. Changes to the rules might make it more attractive for firms to take the sub-LLU route and unbundle street cabinets, or encourage retail providers to sign up to use the Fibrestream, H2O or Digital Region networks.
Encouraging investment in the current economic climate will be a tough challenge, but as some critics say if we continue to squeeze every possible bit out of a Victorian technology we will be left behind.