The General Conditions of Entitlement are the regulatory conditions that all providers of electronic communications networks and services must comply with if they want to provide services in the UK. They replaced the former licensing regime which applied under the Telecommunications Act 1984 until 25 July 2003, when the new EU communications regulatory framework was implemented in the UK through the Communications Act 2003.
The general conditions are conditions which are of general application. We can impose them on all communications providers or on all providers of networks or services of a particular description. Unlike universal service conditions, “SMP” conditions (which are imposed as a result of a finding of significant market power), and access-related conditions, general conditions cannot be imposed on specific individual providers.
In September 2017, Ofcom concluded a comprehensive review of the general conditions, the aim of which was to produce a revised set of up to date conditions which reflect Ofcom’s current priorities and concerns, and are simpler and clearer for industry to comply with.
The revised general conditions came into force on 1 October 2018. View an archive of the previous general conditions and related guidance.
The general conditions broadly fall into three main categories:
At the beginning of each GC, its scope of application is set out by describing the category of communications providers to which the condition applies, and defining that category of providers as “Regulated Providers” for the purpose of individual conditions. Some GCs, such as conditions A2 and B1, apply to all “Communications Providers”, whereas others apply to more limited categories of CPs, for example condition C8 applies to mobile service providers.
All the definitions used in the GCs are set out in a single ‘Definitions’ section at the end of the GCs. These include the terms “Electronic Communications Network” and “Electronic Communications Service”, which are relevant to the definition of “Communications Provider”.