Event: ‘What should be in the forthcoming Communications Bill?

Over 60 PICTFOR members attended the panel session to discuss what should be in the forthcoming Communications Bill. MPs Nigel Adams (Cons) and Chi Onwurah (Lab) chaired the meeting with speakers: Graeme Hobbs, Chairman, Motorola Solutions; Alan Lazarus, Head of Regulatory Policy & Strategy, BT and Paul Morris, Head of Government Affairs, Vodafone giving their expert opinions.

A number of important considerations were presented. Graeme Hobbs proposed that the Bill should focus on driving growth in the UK economy and fostering innovation. He also raised the importance of spectrum as being the life blood of the sector and that the forthcoming legislation should be mindful of the EU and global standards. He warned that support for IPR would be critical in the new digital world.

Alan Lazarus described the moment for new Communications Act as “pivotal”. He suggested that the Green Paper expected in January would be scrutinised heavily and the Act would have a long gestation period. He warned that with the ever quickening pace of change in the communications sector, there was a danger of enshrining today’s problems in tomorrow’s legislation.  Lots needed to to be done on broadband and spectrum but the next Comms Act should focus on ensuring that the UK’s communications sector remained one of the most competitive in the world. He noted that Ofcom had done a good job as the converged regulator, but the challenge would be to build on the last few years with regulation only introduced where it was needed and legacy regulation removed.

Paul Morris said that the Communications Bill needed to set the framework for the future, one where the internet was going mobile. He suggested that in the new Communications Bill the internet would be included (unlike the 2003 Act).  A level playing field was needed in the internet eco-system with global issues considered carefully. He warned against regulation that would chill innovation.

The Conclusion:

The Bill should enable UK business growth and focus on encoraging innovation in the communications sector and a level playing field should be maintained and deregulation encouraged where possible.

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