Those of us that work in the communications industry are all too familiar with Ofcom and its role in shaping communications in the UK. However, businesses outside of our industry and individuals really don’t know much about the value it can bring to them.
Many simply see the regulatory body as someone to complain to when they are having issues with their broadband. But is there a place for it to inform and educate businesses and individuals on the options available to them.
Ofcom is desperately trying to change its image by making itself more consumer friendly. Most recently it launched an app, ‘Wi-Fi checker’, in order for individuals to test to see if their Wi-Fi is working at its optimum levels at home.
According to its research the Wi-Fi set up in people’s homes is the main cause of issues. While the app is a nice initiative, it is hard to see what it adds. Surely you will know if there is a problem with your Wi-Fi if your laptop or tablet is unable to connect? Hopefully it is the first step and the app will be further developed to tell you what the actual speed is and if there is a problem, what is causing it.
What is of more value is the tips it provides alongside the app in the set-up. Many are common sense, like restarting your router if there is an issue, but some you really wouldn’t think would be a problem.
For example, who would have thought that decorating your home (or even business) with
fairy lights this Christmas could cause an issue with your Wi-Fi? Or that keeping it on the floor instead of on a table could be a problem.
Time for change
Ofcom certainly realises that something needs to change. Businesses and individuals are clearly becoming savvier when it comes to their internet connections.
Sharon White, Ofcom’s CEO, has a big decision to make about what that change might be. It is currently investigating calls for BT and OpenReach to split. The industry is calling for this happen, in order to open up the market and allow competitors to move into areas currently controlled by BT.
It is also likely to allow smaller niche players compete in the rural broadband market. An area where BT is struggling to see a revenue model for.
Ofcom is certainly moving in the right direction and further initiatives like the app to give consumers insight and options will benefit consumers and industry alike.