Policy

In Parliament

FCS encourages members to engage actively with local MPs and policy makers to ensure the message gets home about the vital role of business-quality comms in enabling the UK’s economic prosperity. We also keep a watching brief on debates and questions in Westminster and the devolved administrations which bear upon the availability, transparency and equivalence of the communications market.

 

House of Commons Public Accounts Committee questions the costs, assumptions and implementation timetable for the Emergency Services Network, which aims to move all mission-critical voice and data communications for fire, police, ambulance and associated public safety users from reserved specrum and on to EE's public cellular network.  January 2017.

 

DCMS Select Committee hears from Oxford academician Dieter Helm on the case for separating Openreach from BT. 2nd March 2016.

DCMS Select Committee considers different approaches to rural broadband.  11 February 2016.

Sharon White, new head of Ofcom, outlines priorities to the DCMS Select Committee.  July 21 2015.

 

Commons debates rural broadband, February 2012.

 

Public Accounts Committee hearings on the rural broadband roll out on July 17 2013

 

House of Lords sees ‘big picture’ behind broadband roll-out claims.  September 2013.

 

Written evidence to the House of Lords Communications Committee enquiry into the UK's Superfast Broadband roll-out 

Competition questions and answers

Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the potential benefit to consumers in the communications sector of the Government's proposals to streamline regulatory and competition appeals.

Edward Vaizey (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Wantage, Conservative): I believe that streamlining the framework for regulatory and competition appeals offers benefits for consumers and industry. The Government published an impact assessment alongside its consultation on proposals to streamline regulatory appeals and this is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/207702/bis-13-924-regulatory-and-competition-appeals-impact_assessment.pdf
This assessment is being updated in light of consultation responses received and we will publish that alongside the Government’s response to the consultation in the spring.

 

Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her timetable is for reform of the regulatory and competition appeals processes in the communications sector.

Edward Vaizey (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Wantage, Conservative): My officials have been working closely with officials in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills following the consultation on appeals that was held last year. We are considering the responses received and will publish the Government's response in due course.

 

Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2014, Official Report, column 88W, on mobile telephones, what steps she will take on what timeframe to provide a gaining-provider-led system for mobile contract switching.

Edward Vaizey (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Wantage, Conservative): The Government and the independent regulator, Ofcom, have identified simplifying the switching process as a priority to benefit consumers and enable them to take full advantage of a competitive communications market. In December 2013 Ofcom mandated reform of the switching processes for fixed voice telephone and broadband services offered over BT Openreach's copper network to deliver a harmonised gaining provider led switching process by June 2015. Ofcom will publish details and timetables for carrying out further work in this area in spring 2014, including consideration of switching between mobile networks.

In July 2013 the UK Government set out its objectives to move to Gaining Provider Led processes for switching 'across the board', and to ensure consistent and effective experiences for consumers switching between bundles in its consultation document ‘Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain's digital platform for growth’.

Ed Vaizey MP, Letter

Bob Stewart DSO, MP. To ask the Secretary of State what plans she has to reserve part of the 700MHz spectrum band, currently being cleared by her Civil Servants, for the exclusive use of emergency services and critical national infrastructure such as ports, utilities and railways. And whether she will make a statement committing the Government to the principle of reserved spectrum for these uses.

Thank you for your letter of 8 January 2013 to the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and Minister for Women and Equalities, enclosing correspondence from Chris Pateman, Chief Executive, Federation of Communication Services, about the Government’s commitment to allocate radio spectrum for national infrastructure projects.

I am replying as Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

I have carefully noted the points raised by Mr Pateman; however, the Secretary of State has no plans to reserve spectrum in the 700 MHz for national infrastructure projects.

It is not Government policy to reserve spectrum for public sector use unless in specific cases where it can be demonstrated that the spectrum is needed for a safety or security critical requirement or to meet a mandatory international obligation. Decisions on these matters will be made on a case by case basis.

The Government’s view is set out in the previous administration response of March 2006 to the Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings:

“Where public bodies have significant requirements for additional spectrum, there will be a presumption that these needs will be met through the market. There may be certain exceptional cases, as identified by the Audit, where it will be necessary for an administrative assignment to be made. The Government expects to minimise the need for such regulatory intervention through effective forward planning. Minor assignments, where there is no potential for distortion, will continue to be made on a first-come first-served basis, subject to agreement by the relevant sub-group of the UK Spectrum Strategy Committee (UKSSC).

If requirements cannot reasonably be satisfied through existing national allocations or through the market, and there is a demonstrated safety or security critical need, or mandatory international obligation, a non-market assignment will be considered through the UKSSC. If it is agreed by the UKSSC that an exception is justified, consideration will be given to formally directing Ofcom, under the appropriate provisions of the Communications Act 2003, to make the spectrum available through administrative assignment.”

Ed Vaizey MP
Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries
29 January 2013

Radio Frequencies

Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party) To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect on 4G roll-out of four-to-five fold increases in spectrum annual licence for mobile telephone radio spectrum.

Edward Vaizey (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Wantage, Conservative) The Government directed Ofcom in December 2010 to revise the fees paid for licences to use spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands following the auction of licences to use the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands so as to reflect full market value. The statutory instrument making this direction was accompanied by an impact assessment which is available at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/3024/impacts