Ofcom lays out £400m plans for 2010
1. Get Olympics online 2. Er, other people too I suppose
UK regulator Ofcom intends to spend the next couple of years figuring out why some of us aren't connected, and ensuring that the Olympics are.
The Ofcom Annual Plan 2010/11 (pdf) explains how the regulator, whose remit covers everything from children's television to aircraft radios, intends to spend its £400m+ budget over the next couple of years, and it seems that getting broadband to everyone is important, but getting broadband to the Olympics is most important.
Ofcom reckons it got less money this year - down 3.6 per cent in "real terms" apparently - but despite that the regulator is ready to take on more responsibilities. These include regulation of online content and monitoring connection speeds - assuming the government of the day wishes that to happen.
Big on the list of priorities is getting everyone connected, though Ofcom is still struggling to understand why coverage isn't ubiquitous and why some people still seem uninterested in getting connected.
The first issue apparently needs more research, which is something of a get-out clause for a regulator that has no authority to force companies into connecting people.
The latter will, no doubt, involve advertising just how great the internet is to encourage hold-outs that their lives will become impossible without broadband - before that becomes true. That's more the responsibility of the Digital Participation Consortium, but Ofcom chairs that and so is intimately involved.
Once everyone is connected Ofcom is concerned they might not be able to change suppliers, so will be focusing on that too. On the mobile side we're expecting to hear from Ofcom tomorrow that mobile operators will be required to permit porting within a day, the minimum required by EU legislation. But Ofcom wants broadband porting to be equally fast, and that's another priority for the next couple of years.
Other than that the regulator is going to continue dealing with the 17,000 phone calls and 5,600 written enquiries it gets every month, at least until it gets downsized by the incoming Conservative government. ®
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