No quarantine for regulation!

Posted on: 18th June 2020, by Magrathea

Whilst it’s true that Ofcom published some reassurances early on that breaches of regulations due to the Covid crisis would be handled with due consideration for the circumstances, and they delayed some consultations cognisant of the fact many of us have enough on our plates right now, but the fact remains the consultations and regulatory reviews are there for a reason and things are starting to progress again now.

With some big reviews coming up there is still a clear intention to stick to original implementation dates.  For example, the Ofcom ‘Narrowband Market Review’ is due to take effect in April 2021 and the ‘European Electronic Communications Code’ (“EECC”) updates will become entwined in our regulations in December 2020 with a 12 month implementation period.  So the consultation process will be a little shorter and in some cases the implementation window will be longer to give us a chance to catch up.

Magrathea have been working alongside our colleagues at ITSPA to keep track of progress and have been engaging regularly with Ofcom throughout the lock down period.

Our greatest concerns right now are two-fold.  The first is that the new EECC requirements will place onerous requirements on our clients, particularly those serving business customers, at a time when many of you have more than enough to contend with already.  The EECC requires smarter switching, more flexible contracts and a number of other consumer protections.

I doubt any of us would argue that protecting a fair deal for individual consumers is a good thing, however the new rules will apply to small business customers too.  Based on the proposed definitions businesses with up to 50 employees and ‘not for profit’ organisations are set to have the same protections applied to them, meaning some of the terms are simply crippling for many B2B deals.

The second big concern is Interconnect.  For a few years now we have been fighting for IP Interconnects to be given the same safeguards and regulatory oversight as their TDM equivalent, but so far Ofcom have always felt there is sufficient competition in the market to negate the need for these controls.

Based on our many years of experience working with all the major networks in the UK, as well as many smaller ones for that matter, we feel justified in challenging this view.

We believe that nearly all of the reasons some carriers have regulations applied to them continue to stand true and as such our ask of Ofcom is that regulation become technology agnostic during the next review period.

We are working hard to have these views properly considered ahead of the next consultation which is due to be published between July and September this year.  You can rest assured we will be submitting a strong response in our efforts to maintain a healthy competitive environment for the foreseeable future.