Informing and Shaping Regulation

Governments have always taken a keen interest in controlling, regulating, sometimes suppressing the flow of information.  Across Europe, the history of today’s modern communications infrastructures is one of state-owned monopoly providers in the fixed telephony and broadcast markets, and a heavy bias towards military expediency in the use of radio spectrum.

Today, the UK has the most open, most competitive and most transparent communications market of any nation in Europe – arguably in the world.  The 1980s saw both the arrival of the mobile telephone networks and the de-nationalisation of Post Office Telephones.  The concomitant creation of a regulator with a clear duty to act as a proxy for competition, and the power to impose price controls on the new British Telecommunications monopoly, opened up the market to genuine retail and wholesale competition and ushered in a vibrant new era.

As the voice of the business radio industry, FCS was already interfacing with the regulator on matters of radio spectrum licencing while BT was still a gleam in Mrs Thatcher’s eye.  As the competitive market began to take shape, FCS became intimately involved in the technicalities of delivering competitive and equivalent wholesale line rental products on the copper infrastructure, as well as policing the resale of mobile handsets.

As Ofcom has grown and developed, so FCS has grown and developed alongside it:  a familiar and well-informed industry voice with a clear presumption in favour of business-to-business voice and data communications and a culture of championing transparent and competitive markets.

FCS meets regularly with Ofcom personnel at all levels to bring forward members’ concerns about existing or proposed regulations.  And to ensure competition continues to be fair and equivalent, and enforcement continues to be both realistic and proportionate.  This experience, in turn, informs FCS submissions to BEREC, the pan-European regulatory think-tank, and directly to the EU on matters of telecoms and radio policy.

FCS also represents business users’ interests on the Industry Liaison Panel of PhonepayPlus, Ofcom’s designated regulator for premium-rate numbers.  We bring resellers’ concerns about BT’s monopolistic behavior to the attention of the Equivalence of Access Board.

And we participate fully in the detailed work of the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator in ensuring the spirit of regulation is observable in day to day practice at exchange level.

FCS exists to make sure everyone – citizens, consumers, businesspeople, regulators and policy-makers – understands and values the unique contribution ‘comms’ makes to our national life and our international competitiveness.

In the course of the 2017 Parliament, FCS is campaigning for:

  • Government recognition via BEIS and Treasury of the vital, enabling role of comms infrastructure and a vibrant reseller market in enabling UK growth.
  • Utility comms infrastructure (both active and passive) across all platforms on an open-access basis, owned and managed by industry stakeholders.
  • Gaining-Provider-Led switching across all platforms.
  • Clear metrics for determining Societal Benefit of comms infrastructure reserved for public services/non-commercial uses.
  • Cyber security’ in its broadest sense recognised as a board-level responsibility in all companies, and priced accordingly by insurers.
  • Ofcom required to report annually to Parliament on the need for its continued existence.

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