A Strong Investment Environment must be at the Core of Ofcom’s Future Approach to the Mobile Market
The UK’s mobile market is evolving. Both the Government and Ofcom have rightly taken the decision to review what these changes mean, so as to maintain a highly competitive market that generates value for consumers. From the mobile network operators’ standpoint, the key to achieving this is to promote a strong investment environment to facilitate the build of 4G and 5G, while ensuring all market actors are bound by fair and balanced regulation.
Ofcom has published its ‘Future approach to mobile markets’ and running to around 300 pages its review is certainly comprehensive and contains a lot of interesting data. For example, Ofcom estimates that 94% of UK premises can now get Fixed Wireless Access, broadband via a mobile signal, via the UK's Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), including 528,00 premises that do not have access to reasonable broadband. Further, around 150 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) have launched in the last 10 years, many of whom serve innovative Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as home security, illustrating the rich variety of services in the UK mobile market.
Indeed, the central thrust of the paper emphasises how well the market has delivered for mobile consumers, with the main drivers of competition being price and network quality.
As the Government wrestles with the cost of living crisis, it will be heartening for them to read Ofcom’s analysis which “shows that in comparison with France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA, the UK had the lowest standalone mobile prices in 2020” and that UK customers have been ‘getting more for less’. Over the last 10 years or so, mobile operators have invested about £2.5bn every year in 4G capacity and coverage, enabling 20 times growth in mobile data traffic, while prices have been falling.