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NGCS Focus Group – 7th April 2011 – 2.00 pm Ofcom

Agenda item (1) Introductions and review of minutes:

Attendance:

Justin Hornby

Cable&Wireless Worldwide - Chair

Steve Burniston

Ofcom

Sean Hartley

BT

Laurent Pariat

Cable&Wireless Worldwide

Peter Farmer

Gamma

Alistair Dixon

Colt

Matthew Peake

Verizon Business

Kath Embleton

BT

Grant Forsythe

Sky

Andy Martin

IV Response

Kim Hilton

Everything Everywhere

Agenda: Introductions

Steve Burniston (Ofcom) introduced himself to the group and explained that he would be the Ofcom contact for all future meetings. He explained that he was largely in listening mode for this meeting.

Agenda: Update / progress report on the current 'live' NTS related consultations / investigations:

  • NGCS Review

Steve reported that Ofcom had received over a hundred responses to the NGCS Review and that these were being published to the Ofcom website as quickly as possible. At this stage the plan is still to publish a statement in September.
Matthew Peake (Verizon Business) raised the lack of consumer testing of the unbundled tariff and price capping options and expressed concern should a statement be issued before such testing had been completed.

Andy Martin (IV Response) predicted that the Final Determination would lead to a dispute and potentially an Appeal to the Competition Appeals Tribunal if any form of price capping was imposed. He asked whether it was possible to address these issues before the final statement in order to prevent revenue uncertainty to operators in the market place. Andys comments sparked a wide ranging conversation in relation to the form any legal challenge could take and whether the current consultation provided a suitable document for implementation.

Kim Hilton (Everything Everywhere) expressed concerns that the consultation had been too green for implementation. Kath Embleton (BT) responded saying that she expected Septembers statement to lead to a second consultation with any implementation following this subsequent statement in April 2012. Steve agreed to take an action to provide the group with a clearer plan of the steps Ofcom intends to take between now and the September Statement, and then beyond into implementation.

AP APR 11/01: Steve Burniston to provide roadmap to NGCS Review

Conversation continued on the potential challenges to adjoining areas of regulation such as the use of LRIC and LRIC+ in the MTR and the ongoing ladder-charging appeals. 0800 being classified as free to caller was identified as an area where hypothetically a challenge could be mounted to Ofcoms plans.

Debate moved on to the potential for consumer harm which had been identified as part of Ofcoms Review and the timescales that would be required to resolve the issues. Grant Forsyth (Sky) challenged whether industry should agree something between itself rather than wait for Ofcoms timescales. He suggested that industry could work through the various Ofcom scenarios and how they could be implemented ahead of the final determination. Justin Hornby (Cable&Wireless Worldwide) noted that this had been done, albeit not fully successfully with the creation of the 03 number range. Doubt was cast, by Kim upon Everything Everywheres willingness to participate in such discussions ahead of clear Ofcom direction.

Discussion moved on to the relative merits of the unbundled vs the price capped approaches proposed in the NGCS Review. Andy theorised that the market was not sufficiently competitive to prevent the Access Charge in any Unbundled Tariff from rising to as much as 25ppm and therefore that temporary price caps imposed upon everyone might represent a temporary solution. This view was opposed by Kim in the absence of a proper wholesale market review and Peter Farmer (Gamma) expressed regret that Ofcom had not fought the EUs view that non-geographic calls were not a distinct market. Grant questioned why a market review was indeed necessary and why industry agreement could not be reached.

  • retail uplift and prs bad debt

Steve reported that Warwick Izzard was now leading this work and that a statement was due for the end of June. The delay to date was due largely to work that was being undertaken on the cost of capital.

AP APR 11/02 Steve to discuss timescales with Warwick and to report back to the group.

Kath explained that BT was awaiting the final statement to this work before resubmitting its dispute in relation to the PRS surcharge.

Agenda Item: Review of remaining outstanding actions

NONE OUTSTANDING

Agenda item: AOB

No further items were raised.

Date of next meeting: 19TH MAY 2011

Summary of new and outstanding actions:

Action APR_11/01:

Steve Burniston to provide roadmap to NGCS Review

Action: APR_11/02:

Steve to discuss timescales with Warwick and to report back to the group.

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