Ofcom delays UK telecoms work from 2020 to 2021

Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, has published a revision of its proposed annual 2020/2021 work plan, with numerous delays to the UK regulator’s full-fibre broadband, mobile and regulation work, due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

The updated schedule will take account of the coronavirus crisis that has ramped up significantly since the original plan was published in January of this year, with social distancing measures and the overall lockdown having a considerable impact.

Ofcom will now have a significant focus on responding to the pandemic. The regulator will publish an updated plan in September, which will reflect how it has monitored the coronavirus situation, along with quarterly updates on its progress.

Significant changes include Ofcom’s consultation on promoting investment and competition in full fibre broadband networks, part of its Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26, which was originally to be opened for responses until April 1, but has been extended until May 22.

The regulator’s plan to award new radio bands to mobile network operators as they are released (such as 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz for 5G mobile), which was originally targeted for the first quarter of 2020/21, is now listed as 2020/21 in general, with no specific quarter.

Additionally, its related 700MHz spectrum clearance work, originally due to be finished by May of this year, is now listed as on pause with a final update in the third quarter of 2020/21. There has also been a slight reduction to the government’s proposed spending cap for Ofcom’s 2020/2021 budget, which has been revised down from £133.6 million in January to £131.9 million.

While the regulator has made some timings explicit, it also notes that other “will depend on events over the next few months as the UK emerges from the initial coronavirus crisis” and that plans will be kept “live and flexible”.

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