Westminster eForum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Wholesale voice market reform in the UK - regulation, network modernisation, and the impact on competition and services for customers

Morning, Thursday, 27th May 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is looking at the future of the wholesale voice market.

Taking place in light of planned upgrades to landline infrastructure, delegates will assess regulatory changes outlined in Ofcom’s consultation on the Wholesale Voice Markets Review for 2021-26.

Further sessions look at:

  • the impact of changes in landline and mobile usage
  • priorities for ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to support moves towards voice services delivered over broadband connections
  • what more can be done to make sure services provide value for consumers

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DCMS; Department for the Economy, NI; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • Taking forward the Wholesale Voice Markets Review
  • Stakeholder perspectives on the Wholesale Voice Markets Review - deregulation, modernisation, and the outlook for competition
  • Adapting to changes in consumption and use of landline and mobile services, the termination rate cap, and ensuring the best deal for consumers
  • Tackling the practical challenges of moving to an all IP-based landline system - migration, infrastructure, regulation, and communication with consumers and business

Background to the discussion:

  • Wholesale Voice Markets Review 2021-26 - Ofcom’s consultation setting out plans for regulation of the wholesale markets for call services, encompassing the:
    • deregulation of the wholesale market - including removing the current regulation on BT’s wholesale call origination
    • regulatory focus - supporting a change to:
      • a modernised system - particularly IP interconnections with an obligation on BT to publish a timetable for migration
      • incentivising the use of common technical standards
    • interconnection rates:
      • continuation of caps on the charges for terminating landline and mobile calls, and mobile termination rates on calls to 070 numbers
      • requiring BT to offer interconnection with its IP network for landline calls at the regulated termination rate from April 2025 onwards
      • ensuring that UK providers can charge no more than the equivalent European counterpart rates (if higher than UK regulated cap) for calls originating abroad
      • remove the charge control for conveyance of calls to ported mobile numbers (DCC)
  • migration to IP-based connectivity:
    • the focus on broadband coverage - and a move from a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to an all IP-based system delivered over broadband connections
    • serving new customer needs - with mobile voice traffic having increased by 10-45% compared to before the Spring lockdown, according to Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2020 report
  • development of 5G services - and the upcoming spectrum auction for the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz bands
  • Planning for Gigabit Delivery in 2021 - DCMS outlining plans to connect 1m homes and businesses and improve coverage for the 20% hardest to reach parts of the UK by 2025

Key areas for discussion:

  • taking forward the Wholesale Voice Markets Review - with stakeholder perspectives on what it means for the future of the wholesale voice market, looking at:
    • scope and effectiveness - the extent to which the Review addresses the key issues facing the sector, and whether more action is needed
    • new regulatory framework - the deregulation of the wholesale voice market and the impact of removing the current regulation on BT’s Wholesale Call Origination (WCO) service
    • implementation and market impact - how the transition period will work, the impact on the sector of changes proposed in the Review, and the outlook for competition
  • customer needs:
    • changing habits and demands - what have been the most significant changes for the industry, with the pandemic highlighting the reliance on connectivity for UK consumers and businesses
    • the response - how providers, services and the market are adapting to the changing nature of mobile and landline usage
    • the new normal:
      • what changes in customer preferences and market conditions are likely to be embedded and which will be transitory, particularly those prompted by conditions during the pandemic
      • how can it be ensured that regulatory reform is able to keep pace with further developments, and supports the industry being able to respond appropriately
  • termination rate caps - the effect of the changes:
    • with the mobile call termination price cap to be lower than the current rate
    • with calls from abroad being able to be charged at the equivalent rates charged by that country where those rates are higher than the UK regulated cap
  • modernisation of landline services - addressing the challenges, including
    • implementation - the priorities and process for phasing out public switch telephone networks
    • timeliness - ensuring the infrastructure is in place to enable a swift transition to an IP-based landline system
    • customer engagement - communication with consumers and businesses about the changes

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; the Department for the Economy, NI; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials in this area of public policy, together with other stakeholders from across the telecoms and digital sectors, including telecoms companies and their advisors, mobile operators, law firms, technology and innovation platforms, IT and systems developers, consumer bodies, data use and protection specialists, professional service providers, researchers from academia and higher education, as well as reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Senior speaker confirmed from Ofcom


Rajesh Sennik

Partner and Value Creation Practice Lead, KPMG

Richard Spencer

Panel Member, Communications Consumer Panel

Rich Sullivan-Jones

Audit Manager, Regulation, Consumers and Competition, National Audit Office

Senior speaker confirmed from BT

Matthew Evans

Director of Markets, techUK