Tag: Ofcom

KCOM let emergency services go to Hull

marina-hullUK comms watchdog Ofcom has torn a strip off the rump of the telco services provider KCOM for failing maintain emergency services access in Hull.

KCOM notified Ofcom in February 2016 that its phone service in the region had suffered a “temporary reduction in availability” which is apparently what you say when the emergency service are Hull on Toast.

Ofcom said it had reasonable grounds for believing that KCOM failed to take sufficient measures to maintain uninterrupted telephone access to emergency services on 999 and 112.

The outfit had failed to comply with its obligations in relation to network security and access to emergency services from 25 February 2009 to 28 December 2015, he watchdog growled.

It added:”KCOM now has an opportunity to make representations to Ofcom on the matters contained in the Notification before Ofcom makes a final decision in accordance with section 96C of the Communications Act 2003″

Hull is unique in that the vast majority of residents and most businesses in Hull, Cottingham and Beverley are served only with telecoms services by KCOM.

The outfit is pretty hacked off with the infrastructure market anyway and has flogged its national comms infrastructure – excluding Hull and East Yorkshire – to CityFibre for £90m last year.

Talk-talk wants channel to support “Fix Britain’s Internet”

essential-talk-talk-51fd8e90e1476TalkTalk is asking its channel partners to support the “Fix Britain’s Internet “campaign which is calling for the privatisation of BT Openreach.

For those who came in late,  the campaign was created by Vodafone, Sky and TalkTalk, and is designed to help consumers and businesses to make their voices heard during Ofcom’s ten week public consultation period. TalkTalk’s wants its channel partners to joined the fight.

Ofcom published its Strategic Review of Digital Communications admiting that major reform was needed. Several months later, the watchdog set out proposals that would not force BT to spin off Openreach, but instead suggested that Openreach should be run as a legally separate company within BT Group, with its own board, and an independent chairman.

However the competing service providers fear this is not enough and want everyone to oppose it. In a statement Talk Talk said:

“Our partners’ have a firsthand experience of Openreach’s poor service provisioning has fueled their desire to support the campaign and encourage more businesses to get in touch with Ofcom before the consultation closes on 4th October 2016.”


Watchdog says Openreach must be legally seperate from BT

dog-on-bed-with-people-no-text-590x388UK telco watchdog Ofcom has growled that Openreach must become a “legally” separate company from BT and have its independent board as seperate drinks cabinet.

In February, Ofcom identified serious failings with BT’s ownership model of Openreach now it has outlined details of how an enhanced structural separation will work.

Ofcom said BT has an incentive to make these decisions in the interests of its own retail businesses, rather than BT’s competitors.

Ofcom iterated that Openreach should be a legally separate company within BT, saying all its directors would be required to make decisions in the interests of all Openreach’s customers. The new board should have a majority of non-executive directors, who should not be affiliated to BT Group in any way but would be both appointed and removed by BT in consultation with Ofcom.

Openreach’s chief exec should be appointed by the Openreach Board, with no direct lines of reporting from Openreach executives to BT Group.

Openreach will also be obliged to consult formally with customers such as Sky and TalkTalk on large-scale investments which is something that BT was not happy to do during its G.Fast roll-out plans.

Sharon White, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: “We’re pressing ahead with the biggest shake-up of telecoms in a decade, to make sure the market is delivering the best possible services for people and business across the UK.”

The moves are designed to ensure that Openreach acts more independently from BT Group, and takes decisions for the good of the wider telecoms industry and its customers. “If it cannot achieve this, Ofcom will reconsider whether BT and Openreach should be split into two entirely separate companies, under different ownership,” said the regulator.

Ofcom said BT has notified it of plans to deliver changes to Openreach’s governance, to make it more independent and accountable to its customers. “We welcome BT’s acknowledgement of the need to reform Openreach, and elements of BT’s proposal.

Qualcomm sells UK spectrum

LPSpectrumChipmaker Qualcomm has sold  its UK spectrum rights to Vodafone and CK Hutchison Holdings for $313.8 million.

This is not bad really because the company paid only £8.3 million at auction in 2008 so it certainly got more than its money back.

The deal is subject to approval by communications regulator Ofcom.

Qualcomm in June announced that it was putting a chunk of spectrum up for sale in Britain, which could appeal to mobile operators grappling with demand for Internet access.

The chipmaker said in July it might break itself up as it delivered its third profit warning this year and said it planned to slash jobs and spending in a competitive environment.

When Qualcomm bought the spectrum it was believed to be a way to roll out its MediaFLO, the mobile TV broadcast system, a rival to DVB-H. But the mobile TV standards proved to be dismal failures Qualcomm didn’t have any use for the substantial chunk of spectrum.


Ofcom draws a super broadband line for BT

btlogoUK regulator Ofcom said that from the 1st of April, BT will have to maintain a margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband that’s enough to allow competition from other providers.

The regulator said that the rules will allow BT to keep its current flexibility to set its own wholesale fibre prices but it must not set those prices in a manner that will stop others from matching its prices and making a profit.

While BT is the biggest retail provider of fibre broadband services, it is forced under regulation to let other operators sell superfast broadband to ordinary people too, using a process dubbed virtual unbundled local access.

Ofcom seems happy enough that BT is, at the moment, allowing other companies to compete in the superfast market but wants to make sure that continues in the future.

What’s triggered Ofcom’s interest is that BT is a new entrant to the sports content market and gives BT Sport free to superfast broadband customers. The regulator wants to make sure that it doesn’t have an unfair advantage over the competition.

The number of people using superfast broadband in the UK is now 3.7 million, with providers offering speeds of up to 76Mbit/s. The industry eventually wants to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s in the future.

BT needs to be sliced up

still_open_all_hours_6BT’s business rivals have called for the telco to be sliced up after having enough of the outfit’s monopoly like powers.

It all goes back to 2006, when Ofcom forced BT to set up Openreach as a separate division that manages its network infrastructure across the UK.

This was supposed to give rival telephone and internet service providers (ISPs) equal access to BT’s wide-reaching network of copper and fibre cables and promote competition.

The signs are that it more or less worked, but now, Sky and TalkTalk are urging Ofcom to split up BT and Openreach completely.

TalkTalk’s CEO Dido Harding says it’s “crucial” that Openreach is separated because it would encourage the subsidiary to focus exclusively on the quality of its network.

At the heart of the problem is the BT and EE merger because the pair will have too much influence over the UK telecoms market and reduce their level of investment in Openreach.

Sky holds a similar view saying that splitting Openreach and BT “is at the heart of creating a sustainable industry” that allows multiple providers to compete.

Ofcom just announced its second ‘Strategic Review of Digital Communications’ and since this was the first to led to the creation of Openreach, it is an opportunity for BT’s rivals to put the boot in.

Ofcom is expected to be releasing a “discussion document” this summer, but the regulator’s initial conclusions won’t be published until the end of 2015.



White space will speed up your connection

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 14.57.04A technology that makes use of gaps in radio and TV frequencies has been approved by regulator Ofcom.

Academics from Strathclude University tested the technique by producing a prototype system in Glasgow which Ofcom has approved.

Ofcom believes that the technique will allow internet access for ships and boats, machine to machine networks and other wide ranging applications. The white space technology can pass more easily through walls and has a greater range than wi-fi.

Ofcom will guide the industry on how to use the white spaces in the frequencies without affecting other channels.

It said it was likely that commercial applications of the technology will be available by the end of this year.

The wireless technology is also expected to be useful when products and services based on the internet of things finally kicks off.

A number of organisations and companies are already experimenting with the technology.

Ofcom says broadband coverage patchy

parliamentDespite the government maintaining that the UK is on track to deliver broadband just about everywhere in the country, regulator Ofcom said economics mean that’s just not going to happen.

Ofcom said in a report that communication services are used by an average UK adult for over half of their waking hours.

That means, coverage, capacity, and reliability of the digital infrastructure are of fundamental importance to both people and to businesses.

But, said Ofcom: “The economics of networks means there are parts of the UK that will not be fully served by the market.  There are also some services which may not be provided to all by the market.”

Either Ofcom or the government could intervene to make life better for people/

Ofcom said that fixed broadband technology is “almost universally available” – the average download speed is 23Mbit/s. But broadband speeds vary quite a lot, the organisatiion said.

The government aims to provide universal availability of at least 2Mbit/s – only three percent of UK sites fall below this.  But this causes difficulties for those affected.

Fifteen percent of UK households can’t get 10Mbit/s speed/

Ofcom said that the government target to deliver superfast broadband to 95 percent of premises by 2017 “is an aggressive target”.  About 18 percent of households still don’t access the internet, whether fixed or mobile.

Ofcom gives 4G the thumbs up

thumbsupA report from UK comms regulator Ofcom said that the four operators who offer 4G in the country offers twice as much speed as 3G.

Ofcom conducted research in five UK cities where 4G was offered by network operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

It measured download speed, upload speed, web browsing speed and latency.  Over nine million people in the country can now access 4G and Ofcom said this figure will increase as coverage increases and additional 4G enabled devices come onto the market.

Ofcom conducted 210,000 tests in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It pointed out that with only nine million 4G subscribers, “networks may be lightly loaded” and increased network congestion may dampen down the performance.

The tests showed that 4G download speeds were over twice as fast as 3G speeds, with an average for 4G being 15.1Mbit/s but for 3G only 6.1Mbit/s.

Upload speeds were even better, with 4G seven times faster that 3G.  Although there was less difference between browsing web pages, 4G networks have a lower latency than 3G networks.

Ofcom said that EE had higher download and upload speeds, while Three was better at web browising and latency.

Smart toys change Brit living rooms

living-roomOfcom research has revealed that the huge take-up of smartphones and tablets is transforming the traditional living room into a digital media hub. Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2013 found that people are still coming together to watch TV in the living room, but the telly is no longer the centre of attention.

The number of UK adults who watch TV in the living room is 91 percent, up from 88 percent in 2002, but adults and kids alike now have a huge range of distractions. People are streaming videos, messaging, updating their social media status and doing a lot more, all while watching more TV than before. In fact, watching may not be the right word, as the TV now apparently provides the soundtrack for couch surfing.

More than half of adults now use smartphones, almost double the number two years ago (27 percent). Tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past year, going up from 11 percent to 24 percent The average household now has more than three types of internet enabled devices and one in five owns six or more.

So what exactly are people doing on their smart toys while “watching” TV? A quarter are “media meshing” which means they aren’t exactly watching TV, but doing something related to what’s on TV, like browsing IMDB, talking on the phone or texting about what they’re watching. Younger people are a lot more likely to use other media while watching TV (74 percent).

The other phenomenon is called “media stacking”. Half of people use their devices for completely unrelated activities while watching TV. These include smurfing the internet, social notworking and online shopping (16 percent). Women are more likely to media multitask than men, 56 percent compared to 51 percent.

However, ye olde telly is fighting back. Many people are picking up bigger TVs, with panels over 43 inches, but many households are reverting to having just one TV rather than a bunch of sets in different rooms. Tablets appear to be disrupting the traditional TV routine and smart TVs are also becoming relevant.

The growth in ownership of tablets is driving the use of second screens, and enticing people to the main TV room. More than half (56 percent) of tablet owners use their device for viewing audiovisual content and half of these do so while in the living room.

In addition, tablets are a very useful tool for entertaining and educating children. Kids of all ages love anything with a touchscreen and the vast majority of parents say the let their kids use tablets.

The transformation of the traditional living room into a multimedia hub could go even faster with superfast broadband services with speeds of over 30Mbps. However, just 17.5 percent of British homes have a superfast connection right now. People who decided to switch to superfast broadband told researchers that they have increased their levels of streaming high-definition content and started using more cloud services.

4G auction probed by National Audit Office

ukflagA complaint from Labour MP Helen Goodman, shadow minister for media and communications, looks like it will lead to an investigation from the UK’s National Audit Office about the “value-for-money” of the 4G auction.

A letter seen by the Guardian from NAO’s auditor general Amyas Morse to Labour MP Helen Goodman confirmed that the Office intends to “conduct a value-for-money study of Ofcom’s recent auction of 4G spectrum”. The NAO is apparently getting the investigation ready, prompted by Goodman’s complaints, which raised Ofcom chief exec Ed Richards’ concerns that the Coalition hadn’t focused on maximising auction revenues.

Goodman told Morse that “by not making maximising the auction’s revenues an objective for Ofcom, the government has failed to get value for money on this project”.

The Treasury forecasted £3.5 billion from the auction, a small amount next to 200’s 3G auction which raised £22.5 billion.

Auction bidders themselves have stated the auction had been poorly designed – as Ofcom didn’t raise the amount the government was looking for, or make sure spectrum went to everybody who wanted it, an anonymous bidder told the Guardian.

The NAO will not be able to force another auction, however, a report will go to the Commons public accounts committee – which can grill chancellor George Osborne for a response.

However, Ofcom claimed the auction was a success which “will deliver the maximum benefit to UK citizens and consumers in line with Ofcom’s statutory duties”. The body insisted the auction will create satisfactory competition which will lead to further investment. “The auction was designed to promote competition and ensure coverage, rather than to raise money,” an Ofcom spokesperson said.

Ofcom finds Orange is a lemon

OrangeOrange and TalkTalk have once again found themselves in the bottom of a customer satisfaction survey.

The pair faced the most complaints in Ofcom’s latest research into the level of service for
major telecoms and pay TV providers between October and December 2012.

Despite the total volume of complaints made to Ofcom falling during the last quarter of 2012 – the sixth consecutive quarter of decline – Orange and TalkTalk still weren’t performing well enough to satisfy their paying customers.

TalkTalk scraped the bottom in the landline telephone market,  generating the most complaints during the final quarter of 2012, with 0.36 complaints per 1,000 customers.

Ofcom pointed out, however, that the company’s complaints continued to fall quarter on quarter, although they remained at almost double the industry average, with consumers mainly complaining about service faults and customer service problems.

BT complaints fell slightly from 0.21 complaints to 0.20 complaints per 1,000 customers in Q4 2012, however, it still remained above the average, while Sky and Virgin Media both generated complaints below the industry average.

Virgin Media had the fewest number of complaints, at 0.11 complaints per 1,000 customers, while Sky attracted 0.12 complaints per 1,000 customers.

When it came to broadband Orange usurped TalkTalk to gain the most complaints at 0.70 per 1,000 customers, increasing from 0.50 per 1,000 customers three months earlier.

The data found that complaints about Orange hit a peak in October, which Ofcom said  related to the company’s decision to withdraw its free broadband offer unless customers also purchased line rental from the firm.

TalkTalk was the second most complained about broadband provider. Its complaints continued to fall quarter on quarter – from 0.35 to 0.33 complaints per 1,000 customers – although they remained higher than the industry average. BT also generated above average complaint levels at 0.30 per 1,000 subscribers. Sky’s broadband service attracted the fewest complaints at 0.08 per 1,000 customers.

Orange again found itself at the top of the complaints pops when it came to paid mobile services with above average figures of 0.21 per 1,000 customers. This was, again, largely driven by the withdrawal of its free broadband offer.

T-Mobile also generated complaints in excess of the industry average, with consumers mainly complaining about billing and how their complaints were handled. Three’s complaints were equal to the industry average.

O2 was the least complained about mobile provider with 0.06 complaints per 1,000 customers. O2, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone all achieved fewer complaints than the industry average.