At last weeks CMA’s Annual Conference, Chairman Carolyn Kimber called for greater collaboration between Ofcom and the business community and criticised industry planners for not responding to the needs of business customers.
Beginning her second term as CMA Chairman, Kimber used the issues on mobile-roaming costs, inadequate broadband and Next Generation Network uncertainties to illustrate her theme of ‘telecoms for business and the business of telecoms’.
Setting CMA’s policy in context of a green agenda Kimber said that business customers urgently need affordable mobile roaming. Telecoms is making a huge contribution towards combating climate change but: “When we ask for reasonable and affordable tariffs for international roaming we are not advocating more international travel. We are simply saying that there are times when business users have no choice but to travel and they must be able to enjoy all the benefits of the trends towards fixed-mobile convergence.”
Carolyn Kimber linked the UK’s patchy provision of broadband with the need to shift regulatory attention from the old outdated notion of Universal Service (and its obligations of BT) to a new requirement for Universal Access. “By the time we wake up to the business case for fibre to the home”, she said, “we will be fifteen years behind international competitors who are doing it now”. “We must”, she said, “ask what the poverty of shoe-string broadband is doing for the UK economy and the green agenda.”
Next Generation Networks
As a direct result of CMA pressure last year the dialogue between business users and suppliers has improved but there are still issues around timescales, equipment compatibility and security that need to be resolved. “Last year showed how CMA plays a catalytic role between the needs of the industry, the regulator and the business customer. We will all suffer” said Kimber, “if we fail to work together”.
The CMA believes that across these three themes there is a larger role for ‘Thought Leadership’ and appealed to Ofcom and government to recognise that the needs of business enterprises – large and small – must be properly reflected in public policy.