What is Ofcom?

Published: 8 March 2024

Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.

We make sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.

We also oversee the universal postal service, which means Royal Mail must deliver and collect letters six days a week, and parcels five days a week, at an affordable and uniform price throughout the UK.

We look after the airwaves used by wireless devices like cordless phones, walkie talkies and even some car keys and doorbells.

We also help make online services safer for the people who use them, by making sure companies have effective systems in place to protect users from harm.

We also help to make sure people don’t get scammed and are protected from bad practices. This is particularly important for vulnerable or older people.

Our duties come from Parliament. Our priority is to look after you, and we sometimes do this by promoting competition among companies we regulate.

We provide advice and information to thousands of people each year, through our website and call centre. We register complaints from people and businesses, which helps us to take action against firms when they let their customers down. Parliament has not given us powers to resolve people’s complaints about their broadband, home phone or mobile phone. Instead, these can be considered by alternative dispute resolution services.

We also help to make sure people across the UK are satisfied with what they see and hear on TV and radio, and that programmes reflect the audiences they serve. We consider every complaint we receive from viewers and listeners. Often, we investigate further and we sometimes find broadcasters in breach of our rules.

We are independent, and funded by fees paid to us by the companies we regulate.

What does Ofcom do?

We make sure:

  • people are able to use communications services, including broadband;
  • a range of companies provide quality television and radio programmes that appeal to diverse audiences;
  • viewers and listeners are protected from harmful or offensive material on TV, radio and on-demand;
  • people are protected from unfair treatment in programmes, and don’t have their privacy invaded;
  • online services do their best to protect users from harm;
  • the universal postal service covers all UK addresses six days a week, with standard pricing; and
  • the radio spectrum is used in the most effective way.

We don’t:

  • settle individual disputes between you and your home phone, broadband or mobile provider. They will be dealt with via an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme;
  • handle premium-rate telephone services. These are regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority;
  • set standards of advertising on TV, radio or the internet. These are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority;
  • set standards for programmes on the BBC World Service;
  • choose the level of the BBC licence fee;
  • regulate post offices;
  • decide what can be printed in newspapers and magazines; or
  • censor what people write or post on the internet. Our job is to make sure that online services take steps to keep their users safe.
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