Ofcom will probe UK mobile market - again
The market's changing, so the regs will too
Telecoms regulator Ofcom is to investigate whether changes in the UK mobile market should also mean changes in the way it is regulated.
In its annual plan for 2008, Ofcom says slower growth, greater retail competition, and growing service demands within the mobile market means it needs to review how it regulates the market.
The arrival of next generation networks would also require a change in regulations. Ofcom said the impact of convergence was unclear.
Ofcom will consider possible future approaches to regulating mobile communications in order to promote competition, reduce regulation, and define the principles "that will inform Ofcom's work for the next phase of the market's development".
This assessment will include the impact of convergence, the aims of regulation and the scope for deregulation, as well as the impact of mobile growth for competition more generally.
Although Ofcom welcomed increasing numbers of consumers switching broadband provider, it also noted that: "There remains significant uncertainty among consumers about the actual broadband speeds offered. This may limit consumers' ability to select the most appropriate service for them."
It said consumer understanding of switching services had improved, but needed to continue as services become more complex.
The other big issue for next year is how Ofcom's responsibilities may be changed by the introduction of a pan-European regulator.
Also on the list is management of spectrum by applying spectrum trading to the mobile market, liberalising spectrum trading for business radio licenses, and releasing spectrum for new services.
Ofcom is also changing its planning procedure to leave spare capacity to deal with unexpected issues which may come up during the year. Each year Ofcom expects to get about 300,000 complaints or questions from the public - in 2007 it received over 45,000 complaints on the Big Brother issue.
More from Ofcom here.®
... about as much use as one.... Disbanding OFTEL was a big mistake for consumers - OFTEL had its problems but..... OFCOM has its fingers in too many pies, and as a result fails on a daily basis to be relevant to most UK mobile customers. This "regulator" apparently spends much of its time "recording data" about problems to see if it needs to act. Fact is at consumer level the UK lacks an efficient and effective watchdog for all domestic telecoms services, hence we get scammed and ripped off while the government are content to stand by and watch happily raking in their cut of the scams in VAT etc. And dont get me started on *whatever they are calling the lash up formerly known as ICSTIS this week*
As for o2, they need to stop charging for sms messages to networks that they donyt have a "roaming agreement" with. now I thought roaming referred to the ability to "piggy back" onto another network when abroad, but in my case, o2 claim that because they dont have a roaming agreement with Verizon, Texts they charged me for that I sent to a US based friend on Verizon were not delivered because they have no "roaming agreement", but strangely the Verizon user was able to text me.
The whole industry is a (cartel operating) joke, and the government is knee deep in the same swill. WE need effective regulation of "domestic comms" landline/mobile/broadband and that means a dedicated regulator, but their business paymasters will resist any moves by the government to put that in place - the current ineffectual joke suits them very nicely thank you.
As someone who worked for a number of years in the mobile industry (one of the networks), I say that Ofcom needs to either get some balls, and power with which to back them up, or give it all up as a bad job.
For years, Ofcom has done nothing all that much apart from:
1. Introduce things the market needed anyway (e.g. make all mobiles "07" prefixes).
2. make "suggestions" which the mobile industry as a whole ignores (e.g. How long ago did Ofcom start up about roaming charges, especially as regards data?)
Although in many ways the UK mobile phone user is spoiled rotten for choice and services (compare to the US market!), the way in which these are delivered is still pretty lame and expensive, and needs something to give the industry a kick up the jacksie. I'd personally really like to see (for example) O2 forced to support delivery reports on SMS, something which they still don't do*, and a method whereby when SMS fails (e.g. a multiple-part text delivers parts 1 & 3 but part 2 doesn't arrives for 2 hours, as happens quite a lot) the sender can reclaim the cost of the entire message from the network.
*If you use an O2 phone, you can get delivery reports by adding "*0#" (without the quotes - of course this uses up some of your characters.... ) at the beginning of your message. But just switching on delivery reports on your handset will not work.