Ofcom revises 2020/2021 Plan of Work in light of Covid-19

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UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has published its Plan of Work 2020/21, which contains a number of amendments to the original draft, published in January, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Plan of Work is designed to set out the watchdog’s priorities and work programme for the new financial year. In a statement, the company said: ‘Since consulting on our draft plan in January, the coronavirus pandemic has brought significant challenges to the sectors we regulate. Much of the nation is working, learning and keeping in touch with family using vital communications services from home. So reliable phone and broadband, post and parcel deliveries and high-quality TV and radio programmes have never been more important.’

The plan has been adapted to take account of the ‘exceptional circumstances’ that have unfolded since the original consultation. Ofcom’s work, it says, will be guided by the following strategic themes this year (this has been modified to include only those points pertinent to the Fibre Systems audience): better broadband and mobile – wherever you are; fairness for customers; supporting UK broadcasting; ensuring online communications work for people and businesses; enabling strong, secure networks.

The organisation said that its focus will be on delivering the work planned in-full over the course of the year. But it will monitor the Covid-19 situation closely and keep plans flexible. In addition, an updated plan will be published in September, alongside quarterly updates on its progress.

Amongst the work to be carried out this year, Ofcom will focus on supporting continued investment and competition in gigabit-capable fixed and wireless services including fibre and 5G to meet continually growing demand. The organisation said that it is actively supporting investment in fibre networks, and will conclude its Wholesale Telecoms Fixed Access market review by April next year. 

From a wireless perspective,  the regulator pledged to help new wireless services launch, for people and industry, including 5G. This is to ensure that the market has the spectrum it needs to enable consumers to benefit from an improved experience and to market players to deploy innovative services and deliver economic benefits for the UK. 

In addition to these areas, Ofcom promised it will support the delivery of universal, decent broadband services, setting out funding rules in Q1 and further assessing the reach of services in Q3. It will work with the government to bring fibre to the hardest to reach parts of the country. It also pledged to work with industry to support a managed retirement of services that rely on older copper networks.

 

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