Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review: what does it mean for service and prices?

Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review: what does it mean for service and prices?

The year so far has seen a flurry of reports and reviews from Ofcom, setting out their plans and overarching vision for the future of both the consumer and business telecoms market. You can read our take on February’s Digital Connectivity Review (DCR), but one of the standout commitments was their determination to ensure a “step change” in the quality of service customers experience. The publication of the Business Connectivity Market Review (BCMR) the following month gave us the first opportunity to see what this would mean in practice.

There are definitely encouraging signs. As customer connectivity increases, and bandwidth needs seem to double every year, businesses are crying out for affordable, reliable access. We’ve long realised that wholesale Ethernet prices are too high, placing an undue burden on British businesses, making it harder for them to meet customer demands and grow. 

Therefore a price reduction of c. 22% this year (and approximately 11% in following years) is very welcome indeed, and we’re excited that we will be able to invest more in our Ethernet product and make sure that our customers can get the connectivity they need at a price they can afford. We also hope that this will further be enhanced by the dark fibre proposals outlined in the BCMR, which we will discuss in more detail in our newsletter next month.

We were also pleased to see the introduction of minimum quality of service standards. At times this year, our customers have had to wait over 90 working days for provisioning, with the industry average currently standing at 48 working days. Ofcom has suggested a maximum wait of 40 working days, and whilst this is a step in the right direction, this only takes Openreach back to the levels of performance of 2011 – hardly the “step change” the industry – and customers – were expecting.

In both the BCMR and the DCR, Ofcom’s analysis of the current state of the UK telecoms market has been thorough, insightful and refreshingly honest. However, their proposed solutions do not always go far enough to adequately address the concerns that they have raised.

In order to deliver the ‘step change’ quality and service that customers have been crying out for, we will need much more.