Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ofcom CEO Ed Richards has a lot to be proud of and consumers a lot to be grateful for

UK: According to Matthew Howett, practice leader, Ovum, at the end of December 2014, Ed Richards will stand down as Chief Executive of Ofcom, a position he has held for more than 10 years.

Following his tenure, the UK now boasts some of the lowest prices for telecommunications services in Europe, together with 4G and fiber at speeds and availability levels far greater than anyone could have anticipated just a few years ago.

Nevertheless, Richards is likely to remain frustrated with the lack of progress in two particular areas. The first is the ongoing threat of litigation that has dogged the sector which has been costly both in terms of legal fees and also the time Ofcom has had to dedicate to defending its decisions.

The second is around pay-TV. Average spending among UK households has hardly fallen in the past 10 years, with some consumers even having seen real-term price increases.  While there has been innovation (HD, 3D, online services, and so on), the headline here is less positive than for Ofcom’s other achievements over the past decade.

Whoever replaces Ed Richards has their work cut out over the next few years. With the looming BBC license fee renewal, concerns around premiere league TV pricing, the on-going debate about the appropriate regulation of fiber, and a new EU Commission to deal with, it’s going to be a turbulent induction process.

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