Happy New Year!

Added by Chris Pateman | Wednesday 23rd December 2015

2015 has proved a tough and testing year.  But I think it’s also been one of our industry's best and most successful.

  • From FCS being the one, lone voice calling for Openreach to be structurally separated from BT, we ended the year with the cry being taken up by Sky, Vodafone, Talk-Talk and Virgin. 
  • From FCS campaigning to keep mobile phone operators away from the UHF2 spectrum band for Business Radio use, we ended the year with Ofcom’s firm commitment to support the current allocations — even though other countries are seeking to re-purpose the band for mobile broadband.  
  • From FCS campaigning to make Business Communications Policy a mainstream manifesto issue, we end the year with even the CBI defining Broadband as ‘infrastructure’ — a term they and the politicians have hitherto reserved exclusively for utilities, runways, motorways and railways.

 At the same time, our friends in INCA, the non-BT fibre infrastructure suppliers, pushed out FTTP connectivity to the point where they now pass two million premises.  City Fibre’s acquisition of KCom’s fibre assets looks set to accelerate that growth curve significantly, and usher in some real choice for wholesale access to backhaul.  And FCS is still campaigning actively with IMVNOx, the MVNO trade association, to secure genuine equivalence of access to mobile minutes as a remedy for the proposed BT/EE and Three/O2 mergers.

Neither of these is an end in itself:  it’s all just part of FCS’s strategic commitment to making it as easy as possible for our members to access markets and trade competitively.

We haven’t had it all our own way, of course.  Culture Minister Ed Vaizey is still sitting on his hands about switching off analogue broadcast radio.  And the brilliant new ‘switch off Airwave and get the police talking to one another over mobile phones’ Emergency Services Network scheme seems to have morphed a bit from its original spec.  From some quarters, it now looks less like an audacious world-leading communications innovation and more like a blame-shifting exercise for the Home Office.  Nonetheless, FCS members’ work in these areas means we are now recognised as the voice of the professional vehicle engineering community.  And our FITAS accreditation scheme is enjoying an Indian summer of activity, as we train and accredit police fleet personnel ahead of the anticipated switch-over. 

But that’s just the headlines.  What about the real work?

Thanks to members' involvement and investment, FCS has secured more CP-friendly solutions in a whole range of bread and butter issues like non-geographic numbering, PRS price-points, mobile phone recycling — and even fraud.  OK, we haven’t yet convinced BT to drop their network charges to cost where dial-through fraud is perpetrated.  But after three years’ efforts we have finally got Ofcom and PhonepayPlus to agree that fraudulently originated calls terminating on UK Premium-Rate numbers constitutes artificial inflation of traffic and an issue that falls within PPP’s remit.  Our FCS1331 code of engineering best practice for radio mast sites is now referenced by Ofcom as the quality datum when investigating issues of interference.  And FCS1362, the vehicle installation code, has just been adopted by ARCIA, the Australian Radio Communications Industry Association -- further internationalising and enhancing FCS members’ reputation as world experts in their field. 

None of this would have been possible without the industry's commitment to FCS — the only industry association which focuses on the vital business-to-business market, and draws on the experiences of specialists across all delivery platforms.  So no matter how technologies converge and markets change, there is always an FCS member who’s got the experience and technical know-how to keep our industry well informed and ahead of the curve. 

Thanks again, everyone, for your support:  2016 is looking bright.   


Feedback from our members in 2015

'You guys continue to give us small players a tremendous position in the industry. Big thanks to you & your staff.'

'Impressive list of achievements across the breadth of FCS activity – well done to you and the team!'

'Thank you for your support, we wouldn’t be here, with this profile if it weren’t for your help! Appreciated more than I can say.'