Ofcom urged to review its Annual Plan

According to the UK’s Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), the country’s telecommunications regulator Ofcom’s Annual Plan for 2019/20 is in dire need of reassessment for having “completely overlooked” certain areas and technical aspects.

The Plan provides an overview of all the work Ofcom intends to carry out over the course of the year, including improvements to broadband coverage and further protecting consumers’ rights.

Initially published at the end of 2018, the Annual Plan focused on Universal Service Obligation (USO) and encouraging investment in full-fibre networks (FTTP). The final draft, however, has been called for urgent reassessment by ISPA and other businesses due to their concern that it does not address more pressing matters in the current economy.

Chair of the ISPA, Andrew Glover, said: “Ofcom’s Annual Plan comes at a hugely important time for the industry. As we move into the next phase of digital infrastructure deployment, the entire industry looks to Ofcom to ensure this vision is delivered.

“ISPA is therefore disappointed that a number of important areas are completely overlooked in the proposed Annual Plan. Although there are several proposals in the Plan which ISPA support and looks forward to working on with Ofcom, a lot of key areas would benefit from greater emphasis over the next year.”

Most importantly, ISPA has said Ofcom must revise its understanding of the internet service providers’ market from a business’s perspective, be clearer on its regulatory activities in a post-Brexit UK, and should provide more targeted intervention for vulnerable consumers in order to protect their rights. In addition to this, Ofcom has been urged to be more involved in cybersecurity matters and the industry’s regulation.

Despite calls for changes to the Plan, and although some of the points made may be tricky to address, the ISPA has stated that it is “confident” that its suggestions can be “easily resolved”.

ISPA’s full statement can be found here.

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