Policy

Official Consultations

From time to time FCS responds to consultation documents issued by UK Government or industry regulators - a full list can be found here and under individual groups.
 

February 2017 - FCS response to Ofcom strategic review on the future of UHF1 & 2 radio spectrum.

The consultation can be viewed here.

FCS believes many of Ofcom's assumptions reveal a correct understanding of the current trends and future potential for services deployed in UHF2.  In particular, we welcome Ofcom's proposal to increase channel sharing from two to three and possibly four users per channel -- so long as the growing demand for data-only transmissions is correctly anticipated and managed. This may mean dedicating certain bands for polling data use, or seeking alternative spectrum where these services can be deployed.  


January 2017 - FCS response to DCMS Call for Evidence on Extending Local Full Fibre Networks

The call for evidence can be viewed here.

FCS welcomes the introduction of 'full fibre' as a term used by government to unambiguously commit to a future defined as FTTP: 'A full fibre connection is where the broadband line to a consumer or business premises is an unbroken optical fibre line from the exchange, consisting of one or more strands of fibre.'  We point out that only the 'alt net' players currently commit to this approach by default.  We caution against perpetuating historical network-driven delivery models, which doom users in areas of lower population density perpetually to receive poorer service.  And we encourage Government to bring property and infrastructure stakeholders together to facilitate best practice approaches to wayleaves.

 

January 2017 - FCS response to Ofcom consultation on forthcoming release and auction of 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum

The consultation can be viewed here

Ofcom's proposed approach to auctioning off these two blocks of spectrum for use by mobile voice & data operators begins with the assumption that restricting spectrrum holdings to a four-player complex monopoly is the best UK consumers can hope for.  FCS suggests a good way to test Ofcom's repeated assertion that UK consumers are well served by the status quo would be to re-visit the approach last used in 2012's 4G auction, and reserve a block of spectrum -- in both bands -- which none of the incumbent players would be allowed to bid for. This should be let to MVNA aggregator platforms, and conditions attacked to all other licences to allow MVNA licencees EU-style universal roaming rights over the other networks operating at those frequencies.

 

October 2016 - FCS response to the Ofcom proposals on strengthening Openreach's strategic and operational independence

The call for inputs can be viewed here

FCS argues that 10 years is quite long enough to have given BT the 'opportunity to see if legal separation works'.  And that being part of the BT Group subjects Openreach to systemic cultural drag which will not be resolved by creating a quasi-independent reporting structure.  Ofcom, as a co-signatory to the Undertaking which brought Openreach into existence, is not an independent or disinterested third-party.  The failure to examine alternative corporate governance models -- especially that of an Industry Mutual Organisation like Welsh Water -- or to anticipate the need of an independent utility-type company to operate on investment/return time-frames measured in decades rather than months, suggests Ofcom misunderstands the fundamentally different type of business Openreach is to the rest of BT Group operations. 

 

June 2016 - FCS response to the Ofcom call for inputs on designing a Universal Service Obligation for Broadband.  

The call for inputs can be viewed here

FCS argues the existing USO was designed to ensure a universal right for consumers to a telephone line in the days when analogue voice over copper was the only technology in town.  This is not a useful model from which to start in today's market.  We argue the government's target for a USO of 10Mbps needs to be clearly defined -- by adding the words 'uncontended' and 'synchronous' -- or risk creating a level of expectation the delivery network will be unable to satisfy.  Because so many technologies and so many providers can deliver 10Mbps, the USO is an opportunity to create a new competitive framework with multiple Universal Service Providers, rather than a licence to impose a duty to supply on a single carrier.

 

May 2016 - FCS response to the request for inputs to the joint DCMS/BIS investigation into the Broadband Needs of Business Users.  

The Call for Inputs can be viewed here.  

FCS argues many small business owners are unaware of the difference even existing levels of 'superfast' connectivity could make to their businesses, simply because nobody is going to try and sell you a solution it is technically impossible to deliver.  We argue for market liberalisation and an ongoing programme to raise business owners' awareness, along the lines of the Cyber Streetwise crime-prevention initiative.

 

March 2016 - FCS/IMVNOx joint response to European Commission Market Test questionnaire on Hutchison's proposed remedies to non-MNOs arising from its proposed merger with Telefonica UK.

Both the questionnaire and the responses are included in this document.

Hutchison volunteered four 'remedies' to overcome the Commission's concerns that merging the Three and O2 networks would result in a significant loss of competition in the UK market place.  The Commission sought industry inputs to help inform its response.  In practice, FCS and IMVNOx believe assessing the likely 'what-if' impacts of at least one of the proposals without sight of detailed commercial documents is an exercise in the purest fantasy.  Our response reflects this belief.  But in any event, we argue none of the proposed remedies will address the core concern:  to drive additional consumer choice requires opening up the mobile market to 'equivalence of inputs' wholesale access identical to that enjoyed by purchasers of connectivity over the fixed-line networks.

 

February 2016 - FCS response to HM Treasury consultation on the terms of reference for a new National Infrastructure Commission.  The consultation document can be viewed here.

FCS welcomes the inclusion of digital infrastructure within the draft terms of reference as a major sign that the vital, business-enabling power of modern communications is finally being understood in terms of a strategic national asset.  We welcome the aspiration for the creation of a Government-backed expert resource, mandated to take 25-year-plus strategic view of the nation's needs.  But we caution against over-populating the NIB's membership with Treasury appointees, or requiring it to constrain its strategic view of what is best for the country to suit short-term budgetary goals.

 

October 2015 - FCS response to Ofcom Strategic Review of Digital Communications

The consultation can be viewed here

In the 10 years since Ofcom's last major strategic review resulted in the BT Undertakings, which paved the way for today's 'equivalence of inputs' market in fixed-line telephony, the market has changed beyond recognition.  FCS seeks for the open, transparent wholesale market in fixed line services to be extended to mobile telephony as well.  We argue for the full structural separation of Openreach from BT plc, and of the mobile telephone mast sites and backhaul infrastructure from the mobile network operators' resale operations.  As technologies converge, we argue for Ofcom, as a world-class regulator, to take the lead in creating a new, more flexible regulatory environment and making the UK a model for the rest of Europe.

 

September 2015 - FCS response to Commons Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee inquiry into Establishing World Class Connectivity Throughout The UK

The consultation can be viewed here

FCS argues that true World Class connectivity will not be accomplished by present Government policies.  Instead of deploying taxpayers' money to subsidise BTplc to continue to sweat its existing copper network infrastructure, government should be future-proofing UK connectivity via Fibre To The Premises solutions.  Several of the consultation questions appear to start from a presumption that rural communities are destined forever to enjoy no more than mediocre connectivity.  We challenge the 'top-down' thinking, and argue for rural communities to be given a real role in making these decisions, and presented with real choices (which may not necessarily be the cheapest, or the most agreeable to incumbent providers).

 

September 2015 - FCS submission to the European Union's DG Competiton expressing members' concerns about the Proposed Merger of Hutchison and Telefonica

FCS argues the market for wholesale access to mobile minutes is already very far from competitive, and that the market behaviours of the Mobile National Operators are closer to those of a complex monopoly than to a genuinely free and competitive market.  The presence of disruptive players like Three has served to stimulate competition and broaden access to wholesale connecetivity.  The proposed reduction in competition will therefore likely work to the detriment of both resellers and end customers.

 

May 2015 - FCS response to Ofcom Review of Fixed Call Origination and Termination Markets 

The consultation can be viewed here

FCS notes this review takes place as part of a regular programme schedule, and is likely to form part of a larger consultation on wholesale call origination scheduled for late 2015/early 16.  So the response restricts itself to addressing the status quo, and noting the convergence between delivery platforms -- such that Ofcom should re-consider its terms of reference to ensure calls originated and terminated on both fixed and mobile pl,atforms should be regulated in a similar manner.    

 

April 2015 - Joint FCS / IMVNOx submission to the Competition & Markets Authority's Enquiry into Competiton Issues arising from the proposed Merger of BT and Everything Everywhere

The consultation can be viewed here

FCS argues this merger is a game-changer in terms of the UK telecommunications market.  For the first time, it will allow a single entity to offer virtually identical products over different delivery platforms -- which are regulated in very different ways.  BT and EE are already the largest players in their respective markets, and this merger will create an assymetric market advantage.  Other national networks will be at a disadvantage, availablity of wholesale access to mobile minutes will be further restricted, and innovative and disruptive reseller models like MVNO operations will risk being driven out of business. 

 

November 2014 - FCS response to DCMS consultation on Tackling Partial Not-Spots in Mobile Phone Coverage

The consultation can be viewed here

The mobile network operators continue to find excuses to avoid national mobile roaming.  FCS suggests that as we are now in the position where people are buying French SIM cards because they need to roam in the UK, only national mobile roaming will deliver the kind of benefits appropriate for today's and tomorrow's UK businesses and consumers.  We further argue that mobile operators' mast sites and infrastructure operations should be structurally separated from their retail operations, in order to deliver a competitive utility market.

 

November 2014 -  FCS response to Ofcom’s preliminary consultation on passive remedies in the Business Connectivity Market

The consultation can be viewed here

The FCS looks for a greater range of options to be available to CPs and believes that Ofcom, as the regulator, must create a market in which business services can operate effectively, unhindered by technological constraints. FCS would like to see a shift from the current position where the UKComms plc market is effectively in the hands of BT, to one where CPs and their customers have a greater variety of choice, both in service options and costs, allowing the true development of a competitive market.

 

October 2014 -  FCS response to the DCMS consultation on UK Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy  

The consultation can be viewed here

FCS welcomes the recognition in the consultation's title that what business wants is connectivity -- it doesn't matter what platform that connectivity is delivered over, as long as it meets business's needs. We propose the structural separation of Openreach from BT, the transfer of the Universal Service Obligation to Telefonica, and the creation of a new Universal Connectivity Obligation.  The UCO should be attached to a credits trading scheme akin to that used for carbon trading, to create a new commercial mechanism for the controlled and predictable replacement of the copper network.  Parallel responses from INCA the fibre 'alt-net' providers and veteran IT policy blogger Philip Virgo can be read on our briefing papers page. 

 

10 February 2014 - FCS response to the Ofcom Annual Plan

The consultation can be viewed here

Ofcom’s terms of reference in favour of protecting ‘citizens and consumers’ permeate the entire document, with the needs of business users relegated to a few paragraphs in Section 5. FCS argues the needs of business users need to be front and centre in all policy Initiatives: policies which recognize the value of business-grade comms will benefits consumers. Policies which concentrate only on the needs of consumer-grade comms will harm business.

 

17 January 2014 - FCS response to the PhonePayPlus Business plan

The consultation can be viewed here

PhonepayPlus starts from the assumption that the premium rate industry (whose revenues are declining year on year) is willing and able to bear ever increasing costs of regulation. FCS takes serious issue with the assertion that it is the role of the regulator, rather than the network provider, to provide front-line help to bill-shocked citizens, and suggests a proportionate alternative mechanism which would restrict the costs of regulation to those areas where a regulator is needed.

 

03 July 2013 - FCS response to the Ofcom Consultation The future use of the 700MHz band implementing Ofcom's strategy

The consultation can be viewed here

FCS is well aware of the pressures on the regulator to free up more spectrum for the use of mobile networks. But we caution that the arguments around migrating emergency services to alternative platforms have not yet been fully tested in practice, and have still to win any widespread support among their intended mission-critical users. The 700MHz band is not, in reality, substitutable because adequate equipment for use in other bands simply does not and will not exist.

 

28 May 2013 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation Simplifying Non-Geographic Numbers

The consultation can be viewed here

Ofcom appeared to realize only at the 11th hour that it had no power to impose plans for price-capping on non-geographic numbers for business users. Another example of an instance where the regulator’s terms of reference in favour of ‘citizens and consumers’ results in the disadvantaging of the business community. FCS suggests a series of measures to manage the consequences and ensure the impact on business users is managed in a transparent and proportionate manner.

 

07 May 2013 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Review of the Metering and Billing Direction

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

14 March 2013 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Price Rises in Fixed Term Contracts'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

25 February 2013 - FCS Response to Ofcom's Draft Annual Plan

The Ofcom Plan can be viewed here

 

07 January 2013 - FCS response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Withdrawal of the 0500 Number Range'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

19 December 2012 - FCS response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Call for Inputs for the Wholesale Broadband Market Review'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

19 December 2012 - FCS response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Call for Inputs for the Fixed Market Reviews'

The Ofcom consultation can be viewed here

 

25 October 2012 - FCS response to BEREC’s Draft Work Programme for 2013

The Berec consultation can be viewed here.

 

17 October 2012 - FCS Response to the BEREC review and update of the Common Positions on wholesale local access, wholesale broadband access and wholesale leased lines.

The Berec review can be viewed here

 

27 September 2012 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Service Charge Caps for 09 and 118 Services'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

13 July 2012 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Review of Relay Services.'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

03 July 2012 - FCS Response to the BT Wholesale Consultation 'Fibre Line Calls - product proposal'

The BT Wholesale Consultation can be viewed here.

 

03 July 2012 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Simplifying Non-Geographic Numbers'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

29 June 2012 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Review of Alternative Dispute Resolution Schemes'

The Ofcom consultation can be viewed here.

 

28 June 2012 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Fixed Narrowband Market Review and Network Charge Control. Call for Imputs'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here.

 

08 May 2012 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'A consultation on proposals to change the processes for switching Fixed Voice and Broadband providers on the Openreach copper network'.

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here.

 

30 March 2012 - FCS Response on the Berec review of the common positions on wholesale unbundled access, wholesale broadband access and wholesale leased lines.

The Berec review can be viewed here.

 

23 March 2012 - The FCS response to Ofcom's 'Second consultation on assessment of future mobile competition and proposals for the award of 80MHz & 2.6Ghz and related issues.'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

01 March 2012 - FCS Response to 'House of Lords Inquiry into Superfast broadband'.

The House of Lords Inquiry can be viewed here.

 

16 February 2012 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Draft Annual Plan 2012-2013.

The Ofcom Draft Annual Plan can be viewed here.

 

30 January 2012 - FCS Response to Call for inputs around the extension of PhonepayPlus regulation to remaining revenue sharing ranges.

The PhonePayPlus Consultation can be viewed here.

 

25 November 2011 - FCS Response to EC Consultation 'Application of Non-discrimination Obligation Under Article 10'

The EC Consultation can be viewed here

 

25 November 2011 - FCS Response to EC Consultation 'Costing Methodolgies for Wholesale Access'

The EC Consultataion can be viewed here

 

21 September 2011 - FCS Response to the BIS Regulatory Enforcement Consultation.

The BIS Consultation can be viewed here.

 

12 September 2011 - FCS Response to the Openreach Consultation 'Fibre Only Exhanges'.

The Openreach Consultation can be viewed here.

 

31 August 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Battery Back Up for Superfast Broadband'.

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here.

 

07 July 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Price Controls for Wholesale ISDN30 Services'

The Ofcom consultation can be viewed here.

 

07 July 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Charge Control Review for LLU and WLR'

The Ofcom Consultation can be viewed here

 

05 July 2011 - FCS Response to the DCMS Communications Review

The Communications Review for the Digital Age was published by DCMS, the document can be viewed here

 

01 June 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom consultation 'Assessment of future mobile competition and proposals for the award of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum'.

The Ofcom consultation document can be viewed here.

 

17 May 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom consultation 'Automatically Renewable Contracts'.

The Ofcom consultation document can be viewed here.

 

7 April 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom consultation 'Changes to the General Conditions and Universal Service Conditions'.

The Ofcom Consultation document can be viewed here.

 

4 April 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Simplifying Non Geographic Numbers'

The Ofcom consultation document can be viewed here

 

1 March 2011 - FCS Reponse to the Ofcom Draft Annual Plan 2011. To view the response click here.

The Ofcom Draft Annual Plan 2011 can be viewed here.

 

18 February 2011 - FCS Response to the Ofcom Consultation 'Geographic Telephone Numbers - Safeguarding the future of geographic numbers'

The consultation can be viewed here