CMA Launches Telecoms Manifesto to Kick-Start Economic Recovery

CMA (Communications Management Association) has launched its first Manifesto setting out a 5-point action plan aimed at helping the UK out of the recession. It calls upon the current and future governments to put ICT at the heart of economic recovery in order to breathe life into UK enterprise and the national economy.

Carolyn Kimber, CMA’s chairman warned that disjointed government policies, a weak regulator and a negative, lethargic approach to local provision of infrastructure and services could leave British competitiveness, enterprise and innovation trailing behind other G8 countries.

The 5 action points are:

1. UK Plc requires converged ICT policy-making at the top of government

ICT policy-making is spread between many government departments and lacks continuity and stability in ministerial appointments. Ofcom, the independent regulator is undertaking activities best left to government, is also visibly under-resourced and over-stretched.

2. UK Plc urgently needs a new Communications Act

The UK’s political and regulatory focus must recognise the requirements of the business user, and not just the citizen. This requires a change in the law to prevent further deterioration under the current Communications Act, provide Ofcom with a greater remit to help businesses and give fair recognition of the interdependencies between citizens and the needs of commerce.

3. Everyone should have universal access to next generation broadband which ensures real, effective and sustainable competition in the supply of ICT goods and services

CMA is disappointed that today’s broadband is still not the major life-changing experience that Lord Currie envisaged several years ago. We need to take action now to introduce true broadband access network across the country. We must also introduce policies that are pro-competition and avoid a return to monopolies in both infrastructure and services.

4. Mobile communications must provide better than 95% geographical coverage
CMA challenges Ofcom that its recovery and re-allocation of the 2G spectrum to 3G services will not improve the already inadequate national coverage. 3G operators have not met their coverage requirements imposed as part of the auction process. Only national roaming of basic services will result in 95% UK-wide geographical coverage as well as leading to increased rather than the reduced competition which Ofcom has suggested.

5. We must seek out a single European Market for ICT

CMA seeks government reassurances that it will, over the next 5 years, actively support and encourage the European Commission in its strategy towards harmonising a single market in ICT goods and services across all 27 Member States.

The Manifesto was launched at CMA’s annual conference in London in front of both industry and government. Commenting on the recent Interim ‘Digital Britain’ Report, Kimber added “it is a long-delayed step in the right direction and implementation of its access and infrastructure proposals deserves unqualified, all-party support.” She also referred to the commercial and societal imperatives of investing in what US President Obama’s has called “the digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.”