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Ofcom’s 2024/2025 Plan Of Work Focus Agenda

Ofcom, the UK’s telecommunications regulator, has unveiled its plan of work agenda for 2024/2025, focusing on implementing online safety and telecom security measures. It also plans to combat scam communications and initiate wholesale access markets for broadband and fibre. Concurrently, legislation affecting telecoms is being processed in the UK Parliament.

Main Priority Outcomes

Within the plan Ofcom highlights that they will be specifically focusing on four key areas: internet we can rely on; media we trust and value; we live a safer life online; and enabling wireless services. These priorities reflect Ofcom’s commitment to enhancing digital and media environments for users and industry stakeholders alike.

Internet we can rely on: Ofcom is set to enhance its focus on cultivating competitive markets to boost investment in gigabit-capable broadband and fast mobile services. A notable step includes launching the next Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review in the upcoming year. This initiative is part of Ofcom’s broader strategy to encourage competition and investment in fiber networks, aiming to advance the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Media we trust and value: Ofcom is committed to supporting and enhancing Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) in the UK, ensuring it remains accessible and prominent. This involves conducting further reviews to strengthen PSB and supporting legislative reforms through the Media Bill. These reforms aim to update PSB’s legislative framework and empower Ofcom with new authorities to establish and enforce a Video-on-Demand Code, providing UK audiences with better protection against harmful content.

We live a safer life online: Ofcom’s goal is to ensure online service providers are transparent and accountable, making sure they fulfil their responsibilities to protect users as required by new regulations accordingly.

Enabling wireless services: Ofcom aims to enhance the efficient utilization of the spectrum and foster economic growth by planning to allocate spectrum in the 26GHz and 40GHz bands for mobile usage and by promoting innovation in spectrum sharing.

Plan of Work Key Elements to Follow

Telecoms Security: Ofcom is set to oversee the adherence to new telecoms security mandates as specified by the Communications Act, updated by the Telecoms Security Act (TSA). The initial compliance deadline for Tier 1 providers, those with over £1 billion in annual revenue, is March 31, 2024. Additionally, Ofcom is conducting a consultation on revised network and service resilience guidance under the TSA until March 1, 2024, with the intention of issuing new guidelines in 2024

Wholesale Voice Markets Review: Ofcom plans to initiate a consultation in the first quarter of 2025 to review wholesale voice termination markets, setting the stage for regulations covering April 2026 to March 2031. Additionally, Ofcom will assess the wholesale SMS termination market and its effects on retail business messaging to determine the necessity of regulatory measures.

Spectrum: Ofcom is gearing up to allocate spectrum in the 26GHz and 40GHz mmWave bands for mobile use, with plans to issue an information memorandum in the second quarter of 2024, contingent upon a review of the Vodafone UK and Three UK merger. Additionally, shared access licenses for the 26GHz band will be made available, and a consultation for allocating 1.4GHz spectrum for mobile use is scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.

Consumer Protection and Affordability: Ofcom is set to release its Pricing Trends report in Q1 2024. Alongside, there’s an ongoing consultation, open until February 13, 2024, focusing on proposals to cap inflation-linked price increases within contracts for phone, broadband, or pay TV services, and to enhance price transparency for consumers.