Duties Imposed On Ofcom by Wireless Telegraphy Act

Ofcom’s general duties including its principal duty are set out in Section 3 of the Communications Act. In the communications matters it is the duty of Ofcom to further the interest of citizens. It is also the duty of the regulator to further in the curiosity of consumers in appropriate markets wherever suitable by endorsing contest.
According to section 3(2) of the Act amongst other things, as regards its functions, Ofcom has to secure most favorable use for the wireless telegraphy of the electro-magnetic spectrum, the availability throughout the UK of a wide range of electronic communication services as well as a wide range of television and radio services.
According to 3(3) of the Act, in fulfilling its responsibilities, Ofcom should always consider the ethics of simplicity, proportionality, responsibility and reliability and it should also see that its interference is limited to the minimum, i.e only when its interference is absolutely required.

As per the Section 3(4) of the Communications Act, while performing its duties, Ofcom should consider a number of factors as appropriate, including the desirability of promoting competition, encouraging innovation and investment in relevant markets, encouraging the availability and use of high speed data transfer services across the UK, the different interests of persons living in rural and urban areas and the different needs and interests of all those who wish to use the spectrum for wireless telegraphy.

Under Section 3 of the Act, in furthering the interest of consumers, Ofcom should have regard to the interests of those consumers in respect of choice, price, quality of service and value for money.

According to Section 4 of the Act, Ofcom is required to take action in agreement with the 6 Community necessities, which confer result to the requirements of Article 8 of the Framework Directive.

The duties imposed by the Wireless Telegraphy Act
A number of duties are imposed by Section 3 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act relating to spectrum management. Apart from other things, in performing its spectrum functions, Ofcom is required to have consider the extent to which spectrum is available for use, and the innovative services and competition in the provision of electronic communications services and the demand for the spectrum both current and future.

As per section 3 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, Ofcom is also required to promote the development of innovative services and competition in the electronic communications services.

The Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 (Directions to Ofcom) Order 2010 (the Direction)

Pursuant to Section 5 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, the Secretary of State made a Direction on 20th December 2010. As per the Direction, Ofcom is required to

  • as early as possible, Ofcom has to assess the competition in the market in the likely future for the mobile communications service.
  • The competition assessment must be in respect of the competitiveness of those markets in future after the Auction, taking into consideration the would be effects of the Auction.
  • The existing possibility for new entry in to the market should also be considered by the competition assessment.
  • Basing on that competition assessment, the regulator has to implement proportionate and appropriate measures in order to encourage competition in those markets once the Auction process is over.
  • After the conclusion of the competition assessment, as early as possible, Ofcom has to exercise its powers to frame regulations to conduct an auction of licences to for the use of frequencies in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands and any other frequency bands which it thinks fit.
  • After the Auction, Ofcom is required to revise the 900MHz and 1800MHz licence fees in such a way that it mirrors the full market value of the frequencies in those bands. In revising the licence fees Ofcom is also required to consider the sums bid for licences in the Auction.

Considering the duties and the relevant facts and circumstances, Ofcom considers that the principal duty of furthering the interests of citizens and consumers by promoting competition is of particular importance to the Auction

Ofcom also considers that its duties relating to 1) the best possible use for wireless telegraphy of the electro-magnetic spectrum, 2) the desirability of encouraging investment and innovation, 3) the desirability of encouraging the availability and use of high speed data transfer services across the UK and 4) having regard to consumers interest relating to price, quality of service and value for money, are all particularly relevant.

Ofcom was careful to see that its proposals were objectively justifiable, free from discrimination, transparent and proportionate while it carried out its competition assessment. There are uncertainties surrounding a number of key factors which are relevant to Ofcom’s competition assessment. As a result of these uncertainties coupled with its duties, Ofcom wish to introduce the least restrictive measures which it thinks are reasonably capable of meeting the aims that have been identified as most important.

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