1.1 This consultation follows a consultation by the Office of Communications (“Ofcom”) on the draft statement of charging principles that it would apply in order to set annual administrative charges and licence fees pursuant to the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”). The consultation closed on 17 January 2005. For ease of reference, this consultation is described in this document as the “December consultation”.
1.2 The December consultation also included consultation on a draft designation pursuant to sections 34 and 38 of the Act (the “draft designation”) and on amendments to Oftel’s guidelines “The definition of “relevant activity” for the purposes of administrative charges” dated 29 July 2003 (the “Relevant Activity Guidelines”).
1.3 Having considered all the responses to the December consultation on the draft designation and the Relevant Activity Guidelines, Ofcom is now proposing a new designation. This is primarily to amend the definition of Relevant Activity in the designation. Instead of referring to “the provision of Public Electronic Communications Services” Ofcom is proposing to replace this with “the provision of Electronic Communications Services to third parties”. The purposes of this change are, first, to improve the clarity of the designation by making clear that Relevant Activity includes the supply of services that may extend only to a limited number of customers. The second purpose is to ensure that the designation is fair and transparent in its application, for reasons described in more detail below.
1.4 Ofcom is also proposing to amend the Relevant Activity Guidelines in light of its proposed new designation.
1.5 To allow the opportunity for further comment, Ofcom is now consulting on its proposals for a new designation and proposed changes to the Relevant Activity Guidelines.
1.6 Views and comments on any of the matters raised in this document should be made in writing by 1 March 2005 to:
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
Tel: 020 7981 3483
Fax: 020 7981 3630
1.7 Ofcom is allowing three weeks for responses. This is less than the standard period set out in Ofcom’s consultation principles. However, Ofcom considers that this period is sufficient given that this is the second consultation on this issue, and that the scope of the consultation is limited. Ofcom has determined this period in light of the need to publish the final designation and a final version of the Relevant Activity Guidelines before 31 March 2005 in time for the charging year 2005/6.