Ofcom announces year-long strategic review of the UK telecommunications sector

December 12, 2003

3 Min Read

LONDON -- Ofcom today set out the terms and timing of its forthcoming Strategic Review of the UK telecommunications sector. The Review, which will begin in January 2004 and will run to the end of the year, will be the first comprehensive assessment of the sector for 13 years.

The Review will explore:

  • The importance of telecommunications to the UK economy, and the extent to which the sector benefits from competition, including the fixed, mobile, narrowband and broadband markets.

  • The extent to which competition and/or regulation has delivered the goals of lower prices, higher quality of service and wider choice for service providers and consumers.

  • UK consumers' perspectives on those markets, including the value they place on different products and services. The Review will examine this in the context of the experience of consumers in other countries. It will also seek comparisons with the range of products and services offered to UK consumers by companies in sectors other than telecommunications.

  • Investment and innovation trends in the industry and the significance of emerging technologies as a driver of new opportunities for service providers and consumers.

  • The scope for effective competition at all levels in the telecommunications markets and the extent to which that competition is likely to be sustainable in the foreseeable future.

The project team leading this Review will report directly to Ofcom Chief Executive Stephen Carter.

Stephen Carter said: "The arrival of the new converged communications regulator, 19 years after the privatisation of BT and the creation of Oftel, presents a unique opportunity to look afresh at these important and dynamic markets."

The outcomes from this wide-ranging and comprehensive analysis will inform Ofcom's future approach to the telecommunications sector. This will include the creation of a new strategic regulatory framework. This framework will set out opportunities to withdraw from regulation, wherever appropriate, as well as identifying areas where regulation is effective and should be retained, or applied in a different manner.

The Strategic Review will build on the work of the outgoing telecommunications regulator, Oftel. It will be completed in time to inform an assessment of the new EU market review framework as implementation of this is completed across Europe.

The Review will consist of three phases:

  • PHASE 1 - Assessment and prospects in the telecommunications sector. This phase will explore the extent of competition in key markets, the effectiveness of regulation, investment and innovation trends and the prospects for the sector in the future.

  • PHASE 2 - Options for Ofcom's strategic approach to telecommunications regulation, including identifying options to withdraw from regulation and alternative approaches to regulation.

  • PHASE 3 - Ofcom's strategic regulatory framework. This third and final phase will set out the key challenges to competition in the sector and Ofcom's response to those challenges. It will include details of Ofcom's regulatory approach to the sector in future, together with a plan for the implementation of any changes required.

Whilst the Review is underway - but prior to its completion - Ofcom will maintain continuity of telecommunications regulation by taking forward the evolution of policy inherited from Oftel. However, should any major strategic issues arise in the next few months, they would be considered in the context of the ongoing Strategic Review.

Office of Communications (Ofcom)

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