Thursday, November 18, 2004

UKIF fires back

In the rapidly developing poo-storm which is the Phase 2 review from OFCOM, UK ISP industry lobby UKIF has wasted no time in labelling the process a whitewash:

18th November 2004
For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE Ofcom Strategic Telecoms Review Missed Opportunity - Says UKIF

Ofcom, the Communications industry regulator, whilst admitting that there are several enduring economic and technical 'bottlenecks' that BT uses to maintain its dominant position, today missed a golden opportunity to open up the UK Communications market to greater competition, innovation and investment. The key phrases in Ofcom's review are that it seeks "a significant shift in BT's behaviour" but "looks to the management of BT to provide prompt and clear proposals which will achieve such a change". UKIF notes that whilst Ofcom seeks to avoid "The regulatory battles of the last twenty years", it appears to be doing this by avoiding regulation itself and leaving it to BT to propose the way forward. If Ofcom will not regulate then what is its function?

Stephen Carter, Ofcom Chief Executive, admitted that there is 'no real foreseeable route for corporate investment in the market at present', and then proceeded to give industry no clear roadmap for a future regulatory framework that would encourage this investment. UKIF Spokesman Jonny Mulligan, said, "Ofcom is overseeing a regulatory environment which does not encourage competition, innovation, or investment. The current regime applies to a market that has gone, and we have no modern replacement for the new market realities. This is a difficult challenge for Ofcom as technology is developing quicker than it can regulate". UKIF believes that investment in alternative broadband and telecoms providers is key for the growth in the UK communications market. Investment is driven by a market in which a regulator makes big decisions in line with a clear direction. Jonny Mulligan UKIF spokesman continues, "if 'Ofcom wants to build a bridgehead' for broadband and modern networks, it will need to engage more successfully with all stakeholders including Development Agencies, Community groups, schools and most importantly the ISPs and Telecoms providers that are driving the development of the new technology sector". Ofcom has and needs the support of government, industry, consumers and organisations such as UKIF in its difficult task in providing a level playing field. It must use this support in the David and Goliath struggle it faces with BT.


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