Ofcom announces telecoms review

The new communications regulator is to undertake a year-long review of the regulation of the telecoms industry

New communications regulator Ofcom has announced its intention to put the telecoms industry under the spotlight for the first time in over a decade.

The year-long Strategic Review will begin in January in a three-phase approach, with the team in charge reporting their findings to Ofcom head Stephen Carter. As well as undertaking research itself, Ofcom will be having a word with telecoms experts and the public for their take on the industry.

The review will study the economic importance of telecoms to the UK and looks at competition in the industry, past, present and future, to see if consumers are really getting the best deal and how the current regulatory framework is performing across fixed-line and mobile telephony as well as dial-up and broadband Internet services.

The position of the UK telecoms user will be compared to both those of consumers abroad as well as consumers in other industries. Investment and innovation will also come under the Ofcom microscope.

The aim of the exercise, according to the regulator, is to provide the groundwork for taking a fresh look at how regulation is working in the sector, with a view to withdrawing regulation in some sectors and applying or amending it in other areas.

The review will kick off with a first assessment phase, followed by a second phase examining potential options for Ofcom's regulation strategy and conclude with a third phase detailing the challenges for the regulator and giving details of its framework for the future, including plans for how any changes will take place.

BT for one isn't too worried about the review. A spokesman said that the telco were looking forward to contributing to the industry examination and expected some significant developments to come out at the end of the review. "It's big stuff," he said.

Oftel officially picks up the communications regulation baton as of 29 December this year, replacing the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, Oftel the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency.

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