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Right, who feels like going to an Ofcom meeting? Anyone? Bueller?
Show 'em how 'public' feels about ‘effective competition’
Ofcom has released a draft of its plans for 2015 and 2016, promising to protect citizens, as well as allow them to express a view on developments, which is nice.
The final plan will be published in March, but the draft allows interested parties to express a view, to be aired at one of a series of public meetings which you can all go along to.
The 80-page draft (PDF) plan is long and aspirational, if not detailed in how its goals will be achieved.
It defines Ofcom's principal duties as “To further the interests of citizens in relation to communications matters and to further the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition.”
The regulator has segmented its priorities so as to promote effective competition and informed choice, protect consumers from harm, promote opportunities to participate, secure optimal use of spectrum, and maintain audience confidence in broadcast content.
Ofcom has an exceptionally broad brief, from looking at postal services to deciding if things such as Wimbledon tennis or the FA Cup can go on pay-per-view, to phone numbering and radio spectrum. The postal services side sits uncomfortably and is partitioned off in comments.
There are plans to introduce clearer number pricing, particularly for numbers that people think are free. This tidies up a mess left by Ofcom’s predecessor Oftel which allowed mobile operators to charge for 0800 numbers.
However, there doesn't appear anything to compel operators to put mobile numbers which are issued by Ofcom to all manner of companies in a bundle. But then this is a draft and it’s limited in detail.
There is as expected a plan to auction 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum.
A surprising bit of information is that the sale (not necessarily auction) of 700MHz is not expected until 2022, although it maybe sooner. Perhaps this is a matter of settling expectations as Freeview is currently in the space and needs to be shuffled down to 600MHz, which Bill Ray says is where it should have been in the first place.
It does mean that last year’s announcement that 700MHz was being sold to free up much needed capacity starts to look like so much bluster.
But 2022 isn't soon enough for the GSMA, as Wladimir Bocquet, Senior Director of Spectrum Policy, told El Reg: “We believe it is essential that the UK and other EU member states consider making the band available for mobile broadband between 2018 and 2020, and potentially earlier, to respond to the sustained growth in mobile data traffic and the dramatic change in the way citizens across Europe are watching news and entertainment content, relying more and more on the net to access programming.”