Broadband News

Ofcom asked to revise its Annual Plan by ISPA

The final version of the Ofcom Annual Plan for 2019/2020 is due to be published in March 2019 and ISPA who represent some 200 members of the Internet industry in the United Kingdom has issued a public response highlighting areas where it thinks the plan should change.

Ofcom’s Annual Plan comes at a hugely important time for the industry. As we move into the next phase of digital infrastructure deployment, the entire industry looks to Ofcom to ensure this vision is delivered.

ISPA is therefore disappointed that a number of important areas are completely overlooked in the proposed Annual Plan. Although there are several proposals in the Plan which ISPA support and looks forward to working on with Ofcom, a lot of key areas would benefit from greater emphasis over the next year.

ISPA believes that it should be a priority for Ofcom to address these points in its revised Annual Plan:

  • Ofcom should consider the business broadband market more thoroughly to develop a more well-rounded understanding of customers, their needs and the forces driving behaviour in this market. To do this effectively Ofcom should take steps to ensure that business connectivity is fully captured in its reporting.
  • Measures to protect vulnerable customers should be targeted to benefit the section of the market they are intended to protect. This is closely linked to the need for consistency in the scope of definitions with reference to the business market. The level of protection needed by a vulnerable consumer and a business differ greatly, and Ofcom should target these measures appropriately.
  • ISP would like Ofcom to consider in more detail how it can support the industry in adopting measures to facilitate infrastructure switching.
  • ISPA wants greater clarification of Ofcom’s role in cyber security regulation as a Competent Authority in the NIS Directive, and on their plans for regulating the industry post-Brexit.

ISPA is confident that these sticking points can be easily resolved, and we look forward to working further with Ofcom to ensure that these changes are reflected in the Annual Plan

ISPA’s response to the Ofcom Annual Plan 2019/20

One of the things requested is Ofcom capturing a snap shot of business connectivity in its Connected Nations report and we in addition to our many ways of splitting the broadband coverage data can share some snippets that provide actual numbers backing up the numerous business body surveys that business broadband is lagging behind residential broadband coverage.

  • Superfast broadband (over 24 Mbps) coverage for UK business premises: 88.2%
  • Superfast broadband (30 Mbps and faster) coverage for UK business premises: 87.6%
  • Ultrafast Broadband (over 100 Mbps) coverage for UK business premises: 42.3%
  • Fibre to the Premises in the UK (excluding leased line and metro fibre): 4.2%
  • Percentage of business premises needing help to meet broadband USO speeds in the UK: 9.8%
  • Superfast coverage (over 24 Mbps) for business premises in urban areas of Great Britain: 90.5%
  • Superfast coverage (over 24 Mbps) for business premises in rural areas of Great Britain: 79.7%
  • Superfast coverage (over 24 Mbps) for business premises in deeply rural areas of Great Britain: 69.7%

The overall UK figures are running at 95.9% for superfast (over 24 Mbps) currently and when you exclude the business premises to look at just residential the figure increases to 96.1%.

One of the harder elements is how to handle metro networks and leased lines when addressing datasets like this, since a leased line should be available anywhere in the UK if you have deep enough pockets, our data does not include which means the statistics reflect the sort of services your average SME would be looking to purchase.

The topic of handling broadband switching particularly at a time when some parts of the UK now have multiple types of broadband infrastructure available and even for services such as Openreach run and GEA-FTTP switching between providers seems unduly difficult, though this may also be related to the low volumes involved currently.


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