UK Government sets out priorities to help consumers get a better mobile and broadband deal
Consumers rely more than ever on fixed and mobile connectivity in their everyday lives. However, customer satisfaction is often low in terms of mobile coverage and availability of high speed, reliable broadband.
The Government has set its targets for the availability of new digital networks in the UK. They include making gigabit-capable networks available to 15 million premises by 2025, with nationwide coverage by 2033. They also set out measures for increasing geographic mobile coverage to 95% of the UK by 2022, as well as to address ‘not-spots’. The Government also want to improve connectivity on the UK’s main roads and railways.
The new measures will support telecoms regulator, Ofcom, with its commitment to improving digital infrastructure and customer satisfaction. This includes:
– Ofcom’s planned 700 MHz spectrum auction to materially improve mobile coverage across the UK, particularly in rural areas and on the UK’s major roads
– Giving Ofcom sufficient powers to tackle the “loyalty penalty” which sees loyal customers who do not shop around typically pay higher prices than more savvy consumers. The combined effect of the loyalty penalty incurred by customers of broadband and mobile is £1.3 billion per year
– Examining the costs and benefits of options to introduce mobile roaming in rural areas in a bid to improve consumer choice and tackle partial not-spots (areas where at least one operator is present, but all four are not)
– Ensuring that regulation supports investment in reliable, gigabit-capable broadband networks across the country
DCMS Secretary of State, Jeremy Wright, said:
“As the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom has a critical role in realising our shared connectivity aspirations for the UK. As well as ensuring the necessary improvements to broadband and mobile services, consumers must also be protected. I urge Ofcom to tackle harmful business practices and remove barriers to switching.”
Ofcom will be required to take account of the Government’s new Statement of Strategic Priorities (SSP) when carrying out its regulatory duties. The SSP sets out Government priorities in four areas that Ofcom will now have to take into account in their work going forward:
– World-class digital infrastructure: Building world-class digital infrastructure for the UK, reflecting the conclusions of the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review
– Furthering the interests of telecoms consumers: Safeguarding the interests of telecoms consumers, including the vulnerable and less engaged, by ensuring they are better informed and protected
– Secure and resilient telecoms infrastructure: Ensuring the UK’s telecoms networks and services are secure and resilient
– Postal services: Protecting a universal postal service and making sure industry and Ofcom to work together to secure the long-term sustainability of the sector
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