I hope all readers noticed the date for Friday’s blog post (taken down on 2 April) and are not planning on bidding in the teleportation spectrum auction. Avoiding the obvious pitfall of announcing anything serious on 1 April, Ofcom today published its Annual Plan for 2011/12.
As a regular, if not avid, reader of such plans I am pleased to see that the shock of cost reduction has finally brought some focus to Ofcom’s activities. This is the first plan from Ofcom since the UK Government’s post-global financial crisis October 2010 Spending Review. Ofcom has committed to a real-terms saving of over 28% over the next 4 years with much of the savings being delivered in the first year. Ofcom is reducing headcount by 170 and stopping some of its ‘fluffier’ activities such as encouraging digital participation, whilst paring down others (such as market research) to delivering what is needed, rather than what might be interesting or desirable.
Focusing on the telecoms priorities, these are:
- Promoting competition and investment in next generation access networks. Key activities include ensuring the Wholesale Local Access remedies of duct and pole access are effective (good luck there), working with industry and OTA on wholesale products and processes, producing more guidance to give certainty for investment decisions, consulting on implementing EU guidelines on infrastructure sharing and working with Broadband Delivery UK.
- Auctioning 600 MHz, 800 MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum. As well as dealing with spectrum usage for the Olympics and delivering a medium term plan.
- Easing and encouraging consumer switching. Ofcom will be working on a series of measures including gaining provider led migration, addressing auto-renewable contracts and additional charges as well as clearer consumer information.
- Addressing on-line piracy. This will depend on what happens in relation to the judicial review of the Digital Economy Act.
There are, of course, other significant activities planned (details in chapter 4 of the Ofcom plan) from which I would highlight:
- mobile termination rates;
- mobile number portability;
- LLU and WLR price controls;
- WBA charge control;
- non-geographic numbering policy;
- BCMR and LLCC – wholesale leased lines pricing;
- review cost-orientation guidance;
- encourage spectrum trading;
- progress ‘white-spaces’ cognitive radio policy;
- participate in European (RSC / RSPG / RSPP) and international (WRC-12) activities; and
- mobile ‘not-spots’.