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Ofcom will probe UK mobile market - again

The market's changing, so the regs will too

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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

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