Discussion paper: Ofcom’s future approach to mobile markets

  • Start: 09 February 2022
  • Status: Closed
  • End: 08 April 2022

This discussion paper sets out Ofcom’s proposals on its future approach to mobile markets.

Over the past ten years there has been a huge shift towards the use of mobile devices in our everyday lives, at home and at work. Most calls are now made from mobile phones rather than landlines and UK adults now spend on average two hours a day online on their smartphones. This trend is set to continue, with more demand for data-hungry services like streaming, video calling and newer technologies such as virtual and augmented reality,  as well as connected vehicles. New technologies will also create new uses for industry and the public sector.

The mobile market has served the UK well over the past ten years, largely driven by competition among four mobile network operators. But increasingly, mobile networks are just part of the range of different wireless technologies people use to meet their needs at different times, whether that is using Wi-Fi at home or work, or mobile networks when we are on the go. In the future, we expect to see an increased role for other companies in providing networks, selling mobile internet access and providing online services. Given the changes taking place, it is a good time for us to take stock, assess how well the market might work for people and businesses, and consider whether and how we might adapt our regulatory approach, while recognising that there is uncertainty about the future.

We recognise there is considerable uncertainty about the way mobile markets will develop over the next five to ten years, and we would welcome further evidence and views in response to this discussion document by 8 April 2022.

We plan to set out our conclusions by the end of 2022.

Update 11 March 2022 – MNOs' ROCE calculations

We have today published an Excel workbook setting out our calculations of each of the MNOs' return on capital employed (ROCE) that were included in the discussion paper.

Main documents

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Responder name Type
Advisory Committee for Scotland (PDF File, 317.7 KB) Organisation
APWireless (PDF File, 147.1 KB) Organisation
Arqiva (PDF File, 205.9 KB) Organisation
BBC (PDF File, 190.9 KB) Organisation
BT (PDF File, 889.2 KB) Organisation
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