Ofcom on Next Generation Networks
Responding to recent developments to protect consumers, promote competition and secure efficient investment…
1.1 This Statement concludes the consultation we initiated with the publication on 31 July 2009 of the document Next Generation Networks: Responding to recent developments to protect consumers, promote effective competition and secure efficient investment (“the Consultation”).
1.2 A next-generation network (“NGN”) exploits technologies developed for the Internet to deliver a broad range of telecommunication services from a single platform common to all services. In contrast, legacy networks use separate platforms for each service they provide.
1.3 NGNs could offer significant benefits to the consumer. They could be less costly to build and operate than legacy networks and hence ultimately deliver better value for money. They are also potentially more flexible than legacy networks, and this could allow communications providers (“CPs”) to respond more readily to consumers’ needs as these change over time.
1.4 Some UK operators, most notably TalkTalk Group, have already invested in NGNs which provide fixed-line telecommunication services to millions of UK consumers. BT has been developing an NGN design, 21CN, but has recently stepped back from its original plan which foresaw nationwide deployment in a configuration that would deliver both voice and data services from a single platform. BT has meanwhile shifted the focus of its investment to next-generation access (“NGA”) infrastructure, with a view to making super-fast broadband services available in areas covering 40% of the UK’s population by the end of 2012.
1.5 Our principal policy objectives in relation to NGNs are:
- to provide incentives for efficient investment in NGNs;
- to promote effective competition based on NGN infrastructure; and
- to protect consumers from disruption during the transition to NGNs.
1.6 In the Consultation we presented our response to the recent NGN developments in the UK and to some related concerns from stakeholders. We also set out our updated thinking about how consumers should be protected during migration to NGNs. Finally, we discussed what, if anything, we should be doing now to prepare for the longer-term, in which there could be widespread adoption of NGNs.
1.7 This Statement sets out our current thinking on the issues raised in the Consultation, and signposts where in our work programme they are being, or will be, taken forward. It does not make regulatory decisions.