Ofcom, the industry regulator, is a world-class operation. Government should seek to strengthen Ofcom's enviable reputation and monetise its experience by promoting it in an advisory capacity to other, less developed and less competitive markets. This is a particularly pressing opportunity in a post-Brexit world.
Ofcom in the UK should be required to report to Parliament on an annual basis to justify its continued existence. The aim of a regulator is to work towards its own redundancy, as conditions of open and competitive markets gradually develop. Ofcom should be regularly required to justify those elements of its activities which it judges are still necessary for the prevention of monopolistic or market-distorting behaviours.
Enforcement is a vital component in any market economy. If the enforcement is not sufficient or ineffective, it results in a very serious market distortion with the suppliers who do obey the rules being under-cut in the market place by those who do not obey the rules. Thus Ofcom and other regulators undermine their own policies drastically if they do not commit sufficient resource to enforcement.
The Phone-paid Services Authority (formerly PhonepayPlus), as the agent of Ofcom charged with regulating premium-rate numbers, should concentrate on delivering best value to the industry stakeholders who pay for it. This means insisting networks take responsibility for consumer service, rather than encouraging consumers to call the regulator as a point of first recource.
Oversight of premium-rate payments should be vested in the Financial Conduct Authority, to ensure parity with other non-regulated payment processes.
Industry, rather than the Regulator, is best placed to design and administer the databases necessary to enable gaining-provider-led switching across all delivery platforms. This principle extends to the granting of spectrum licences and the maintenance of the spectrum management database.