Ofcom report misses mark on broadband investment


Ofcom report misses mark on broadband investment

An Ofcom report into customer satisfaction levels within the communications sector lacks teeth because of the absence of an underpinning duty on the regulator to promote greater investment in infrastructure, Prospect union said today (Tuesday).

Prospect National Secretary Ben Marshall said: “At present, virtually the whole development of fixed line broadband in the UK is being funded by BT alone. BT is a private company – expecting it, almost single-handedly, to fund a basic service vital for all, regardless of the commercial case, is simply unrealistic.”

Over the past ten years consumers have seen significant price reductions across most forms of communications service, and UK companies are faring well against international competitors. Value for money has risen over the last five years for broadband customers, while falling for other key services, such as banks, airlines, and so on.

Marshall said: “We welcome the finding that the cost of fixed broadband has halved in real terms in the last ten years. But most of this has come about because of technical innovation and investment by BT.

“Furthermore, Ofcom reveals that customer satisfaction with the reliability of broadband services has declined from 88 per cent in 2012 to 83 per cent in 2013.

“And in rural areas the position is far worse, with an average of 17 per cent of rural consumers dissatisfied with the reliability of their broadband service and 19 per cent with the reliability of their mobile service. So there is no room for complacency.

“The 2003 Communications Act must be changed to give Ofcom the powers to intervene to ensure that investment remains a priority. Otherwise major groups of consumers and citizens in rural areas will remain marginalised and see no benefit from the positive changes in today’s report.”

Prospect represents BT's 24,000 managers and professionals, and many more across the UK in the telecoms, media and IT sector.