Ofcom Mobile Sector Assessment Interactive Executive Summary

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1.18

This assessment is not intended to be a blueprint for increasing the scope of regulation of the mobile sector. Indeed, we are looking for opportunities to de-regulate where possible. Our strategy is built on recognising the value to citizens and consumers of competition at the deepest level of infrastructure where that competition will be effective and sustainable. In mobile markets, that has meant competition between end-to-end networks. We are also looking to adapt regulation to remove unnecessary regulatory obstacles to innovation, where they exist, and to enable the market to function efficiently.

We see a need for fresh strategic thinking on issues such as call termination and mobile broadband

Comments

Russell on 29 August 2008 at 11:14am

"...We see a need for fresh strategic thinking on issues such as call termination and mobile broadband..."

Call termination: if you're even *thinking* about applying call termination charges to the recipient of the call, recognise that it is an appalling idea. Has unbearable impact on pre-pay customers, and will reduce the uptake of mobile phone services. No one will accept "caller ID witheld" calls for fear of unsolicited marketing intrusions. Just because the american (backward, low market penetration cf Europe) market has adopted this model doesn't mean it's a good one. Do. Not. want.

Mobile data: is simply too expensive for mass uptake. Particularly internationally.

Barry Sonders on 29 August 2008 at 2:31pm

The key premise in this document - that de-regulating the market is beneficial to all parties - is not sufficiently researched or justified. One obvious example are the roaming charges, where providers were charging obscene fees until the EU ruling which brought them into check. Given a relatively small number of providers on the market, and no indication that it will increase in the near future, price-fixing and "gentlemen's agreements" will only become more prevalent if the market is de-regulated.

Will on 29 August 2008 at 10:28pm

The benefits of deregulation seem to me to be poorly distributed between providers and customers. Because customers work with minimal market information they are usually ignorant of the best package for them. The more complicated and opaque the system is, the more opportunity there is for exploitation.

At present an understanding of how much is paid for even simple voice calls is beyond 99% of consumers. Further deregulation will make this worse. I see charging the consumer to receive calls as a failure of regulators to protect our interests.

I spend a lot of time in other parts of the Eu and I welcomed the recent Eu costs intervention. I will now be using the system much more.

John on 30 August 2008 at 12:25pm

The EU regulations did not go far enough - investigation into roaming charges need to be taken further.

There maybe a complex structure to mobile operators business operations due to a variety of Goods and Sevices taxes across the EU, but I believe if you are using your home network in another EU county no extra fees should apply (it should be as at home.) The regulatory bodies need to look at how they can make this possible for network operators and Ofcom should be working with the DTI etc to make this happen.

Scott on 30 August 2008 at 3:23pm

Charging customers for call termination is simply wrong.

For example, think of a phone you have given to your child to keep in touch. If they run out of credit (something that would happen often), it would be impossible to contact them.

There are meny more reasons against this, but in the end it all boils down to it being good for the mobile phone networks while being bad for the consumer. A regulator that allows a change like this would simply not be doing its job.

Morten on 1 September 2008 at 2:11pm

the abolition of the termination rates regime would remove a distortion in the market wherebt operators are currently free to set prices without any competitive pressure or incentive to keep them low (quite the opposite). By adopting a bill and keep system all operators would be incentivised to compete on price and the system should therefore hopefully require significantly less regulatory intervention. the operators should, however, be allowed to charge a truly cost oriented set fee for access to their networks as without this further market distortions and foul play would be possible.

A Hayes on 5 September 2008 at 8:52am

Not sure what is meant by termination - call termination (bad thing) or review of charges made for termination of contracts (possibly a good thing).

I'd agree with the comment above that the very high cost of data services will severely hamper the take-up of such services. Intelligent providers would realise this and make entry level services cheaper to capture the market that probably particularly wants this - mobile email, IM, social networking, etc. I think Three have led the way on this, though I've no experience to tell if the performance holds up.

As I've noted earlier though, data services are still relatively slow, patchy and prone to weak performance. The use of the term 'mobile broadband' is laughable. Set the expectations more correctly, price for the market and there would be huge uptake I believe.

Work is needed to improve international/roaming charging and services. It isn't good enough that because I'm travelling within the EU for example I cannot get access to certain services included in my contract. I assume there may be some costs to me (though surely there is sense in looking at reciprocal arrangements, especially as so many telecoms are international anyway) but I would like the choice.

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On this experimental site we encourage you to leave informal comments alongside the Executive Summary of Ofcom's Mobile Sector Assessment consultation, published on 28 August 2008.

Alternatively, you can download the full consultation document, and/or respond formally to the consultation (closing date 6 November 2008). You can also follow the debate over the next few months on the team's blog, Mobile citizens, mobile consumers.