Response to RA consultation: Public Wireless Networks

Skip to main content
a a a Display Options Cymraeg
Follow Ofcom on Facebook Follow Ofcom on Twitter Subscribe to the Ofcom RSS Follow
Ofcom on YouTube Subscribe to the Ofcom Email Updates Follow Ofcom on Google+ Follow
Ofcom on LinkedIn
Media & Analysts
Independent regulator and competition authority
for the UK communications industries.
Search Ofcom Search
All of Ofcom
Where would you like to search?
About Ofcom
o What is Ofcom?
o How Ofcom is run
o Ofcom in the Nations and Regions
o Policies and guidelines
o Annual reports and plans
o Jobs
 Vacancies
 Diversity and Equality
 Graduate Scheme
 Apprentices
 Benefits
 Contact us
o Ofcom for Consumers
o Complain
 Phone & Internet complaints
 TV, Radio & On Demand complaints
 Postal services
o Phones
 Problems and complaints
 Nuisance calls and messages
 Mobile phones
Call Costs Guide
Finding the right deal
o Internet
 Problems and complaints
 Broadband speeds
 Broadband switching
 Mobile internet
 What is internet traffic management?
 Online safety and security
o TV, Radio & On Demand
 TV, Radio & On Demand complaints
 Television
 Radio
 Protecting children
 Price comparison
o Postal services
o Articles
o Accessibility
o FAQs
o Advice for businesses
o Radiocommunications licences
 Amateur Radio
 Business Radio
 Ships' Radio or Ship Portable Radio
o Radio broadcast licences
 Radio Broadcasting Updates
 Analogue commercial radio
 Digital Radio
 Community radio
 Radio restricted service licences
o TV broadcast licences
 Licensing updates
 Local TV Licensing
 Television Broadcast Licensing Monthly Updates
 Television Licensable Content Service (TLCS)
 Digital Television Programme Service (DTPS) & Digital Television
Additional Service (DTAS)
o Consultations & Statements
 How Ofcom Consults
 Consultation Response Coversheet
 Better Policy Making
o TV, Radio and On Demand
 TV and Radio Broadcasting Codes
Guidance for TV and Radio Broadcasters
TV Operations
Radio Operations
Information for On Demand Service Providers (ODPS)
Reviews of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Television
o Spectrum
 Spectrum Information
 Spectrum Awards
 The United Kingdom Frequency Allocation Table
 Licence Exempt Radio Use
 TV White-spaces
o Telecoms
 The General Authorisation Regime
 Telecoms industry groups
 Telecoms numbering
 Codes of Practice
 Telecoms policy areas
o Data & research
 TV and radio
 Telecoms
 Media literacy
 The consumer
 Communications Market Reports
 Statistical Release Calendar
o Enforcement
 Broadcast and On Demand Bulletins
 Audience Complaints
 Spectrum Enforcement
 Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin
o Post
Media & Analysts
o All news releases
o Analyst relations
 Main publications
 Data & research
 Presentations
 Regulated prices
o Comment
o Facts & figures
o Images & logos
o Speeches
1. Home
2. Our Website
3. Regulator Archives
Regulator Archives
The material from our legacy regulators is now maintained by the National Archives. For current
information, please look in the main body of the Ofcom site as these links are for historical
information only.
Broadcasting Standards Commission
Independent Television Commission
Office of Telecommunications
Radiocommunications Agency
Radio Authority
Radio Authority
Advisory Committees on Telecommunications
Advice to Ofcom
Advice to Ofcom
Spectrum Auctions
Spectrum Auctions
Spectrum Management Advisory Group
Ofcom’s predecessor organisations
Ofcom was formally established on 29 December 2003. It replaced five organisations: Oftel, the
ITC, the Radio Authority, the Radiocommunications Agency and the Broadcasting Standards
Commission. All the publications issued by these five bodies and their predecessors are available
from [email protected] - please contact us by email if you cannot find a publication in
the archives.
This diagram represents the position at 29 December 2003, when Ofcom was created. It does not
include Postcomm, which merged with Ofcom in 2011.
Here is a short history of each of the regulators that Ofcom replaced:
The Radiocommunications Agency (RA) (1991-2003)
The Radiocommunications Agency was an Executive Agency of the Department of the then
Trade and Industry, and was responsible for most non-military radio spectrunm matters in the
UK. It had about 600 staff and covered all aspects of spectrum management, including
international negotiation, spectrum monitoring, regulation, research and licensing.
Its history dates back to 1918, when the Wireless Telegraphy Board was set up to co-ordinate
interference problems affecting radio communications in the English Channel. It went through a
number of name changes until in 1990 the Radiocommunications Division of the DTI was
launched as the Radiocommunications Agency, under the Government’s Next Steps
Oftel (1984-2003)
Oftel, the Office of Telecommunications, was officially created on 1 August 1984, established by
the Telecommunications Act 1984. The first Director General of Telecommunications was
Professor Bryan Carsberg, appointed in July 1984, who was empowered to appoint staff to
manage Oftel. Oftel was a non-ministerial Government department with close historic ties to
DTI. It raised the majority of its funds from a levy on telecommunications companies.
The Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) (1988-2003)
The BSC was formed from the Broadcasting Standards Council and the Broadcasting
Complaints Commission, which merged on 1 April 1997, under the terms of the Broadcasting
Act 1996.
The BSC’s remit was to consider broadcasting standards and fairness across all television and
radio (the BBC and commercial broadcast services), as well as text, cable, satellite and digital
services, and in particular the portrayal of violence, sexual conduct and matters of taste and
Its duties were to draw up and keep under review a code of practice relating to standards and
fairness; to consider and adjudicate on complaints; monitor programmes, commission research
and report on violence, sex and bad language.
The Independent Television Commission (ITC) (1991-2003)
The Independent Television Commission (ITC) was preceded by the ITA, the Cable Authority
and the IBA. It was established by the Broadcasting Act 1990 to license and regulate all
commercially-funded television services in the United Kingdom, whether delivered terrestrially,
or by cable or satellite. It was a statutory corporation and raised the cost of its expenditure
directly from the broadcast television industry. Its functions were derived from the Broadcasting
Act 1990 and the Broadcasting Act 1996 - it:
licensed all commercially-funded television in the UK, whether delivered terrestrially or
by cable or satellite, public teletext and certain other text and data services;
regulated these services through its published licences, codes and guidelines, and had a
range of penalties for failure to comply with them;
had a duty to ensure that a wide range of television services was available throughout the
UK and that, taken as a whole, they were of a high quality and appealed to a variety of
tastes and interests.
The Radio Authority (1990-2003)
The Radio Authority licensed and regulated the independent radio industry in accordance with
the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Act 1990. It took over these responsibilities from
the IBA.
It planned frequencies, awarded licences, regulated programming and radio advertising and
played an active role in the discussion andformulation of policies which affected the independent
radio industry and its listeners.
The Radio Authority was a statutory corporation which raised the cost of its own expenditure
directly from the broadcast radio industry; and raised revenue for the Treasury from holders of
national radio licences
The Independent Television Authority (ITA) (1954-1972)
The 1954 Television Act established commercial television and set up the ITA. The ITA was
responsible for determining the location, constructing, building, and operating the transmission
stations used by the ITV network, as well as determining the franchise areas and awarding the
franchises for each regional commercial broadcaster.
The Authority's first Director General was Sir Robert Fraser, appointed on 14 September 1954.
The Cable Authority (1984-1991)
In 1985 the Cable Authority was established by the Cable and Broadcasting Act 1984 to
regulate the newly liberalised cable television industry. Its responsibilities were taken over by the
new Independent Television Commission on 1 January 1991.
The Authority had two main functions. The first was to grant licences, following a competitive
franchising procedure, for the provision of services over the new broadband cable system. The
second was the regulation of the programme services carried by cable systems
The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) (1972-1990)
The 1972 Sound Broadcasting Act renamed the Independent Television Authority the
Independent Broadcasting Authority, and extended its remit to the supervision of both
independent television and independent radio.
The 1973 Independent Broadcasting Authority Act further charged the IBA with the statutory
duty to devise and implement a television-style system of controls over radio
advertising. During 1990 control of commercial radio broadcasting passed to the Radio
Authority, which announced its intention to exert a 'lighter touch' than the IBA had done. By the
start of 1991, the IBA had become the Independent Television Commission (ITC),
About Ofcom
What is Ofcom
Ofcom is the communications regulator. We regulate the TV and radio sectors, fixed line
telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.
How Ofcom is run
How Ofcom is run provides details of Ofcom's main Boards, Panels and Committees,
including their terms of reference, membership and register of interests.
Complaints about Ofcom
How to complain to Ofcom. Please follow the guidelines depending on the nature of your
Corporate Responsibility
Corporate Responsibility is the action we take to ensure we are not only a responsible
employer towards our colleagues but also that we recognise and manage our impact on
the wider community, for example reducing our carbon footprint and maintaining
environmentally responsible business practices.
Relevant legislation
Ofcom was established by the Office of Communications Act 2002 (the 'Ofcom Act').
Ofcom operates under a number of Acts of Parliament and other legislation. These
include (but are not limited to) the Communications Act 2003; the Wireless Telegraphy
Act 2006; the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996; the Digital Economy Act 2010; the
Postal Services Act 2011; the Competition Act 1998; and the Enterprise Act 2002.
Contact Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
If you want advice from Ofcom please visit our advice pages or call us on 0300 123 3333 or 020
7981 3040.
We are open Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm.
Latest Annual Reports/Plan
Annual Report 2014-15
Annual Plan 2015-16
Broadband Checker Frequently Asked Questions
What is standard broadband?
We've defined standard broadband as any broadband connection that operates below 30
Mbit/s. If you subscribe to a service that is advertised with a headline speed of below 30
Mbit/s then you have a standard broadband connection.
What is superfast broadband?
We've defined superfast broadband as any broadband connection that operates between
30 and 300 Mbit/s. Superfast networks use optical fibre in the streets to deliver higher
Ultrafast networks are those that operate above 300Mbit/s. We plan to publish further
information on availability and average speeds of Ultrafast broadband services later in the
My speed is lower than shown, why is that?
The average speeds shown are based on the active broadband connections operated by the
major Internet Service Providers in each postcode as of June 2015. Because they are
average speeds it is not unexpected that some households will have speeds below this
figure. However, if your speed is significantly lower than the average it could be that you
are not subscribing to the fastest broadband service available in your postcode or your
connection is not operating as well as it might. You can find out what services are
available at your address by visiting your Internet Service Providers websites. If you
think there is a problem with your existing connection then we recommend you contact
your provider.
Mobile coverage checker Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my mobile provider not show up on the list?
The map shows the coverage of the four main network operators in the UK:
EE,Vodafone,O2 and Three. All other mobile operators in the UK provide their services
over these networks. Examples include:
Virgin Mobile, Asda Mobile and BT Mobile use the EE network.
Tesco Mobile and Lycamobile use the O2 network.
Lebara Mobile and TalkTalk Mobile use the Vodafone network.
Some of these operators may not offer services over 4G, so check with them if you want
to use 4G. Your operator may have a coverage checker on its own website.
What’s the difference between 2G, 3G and 4G?
2G networks support voice calls, text messaging and very low speed data connections.
All handsets are able to connect to 2G networks.
3G networks support voice calls, text messages and mobile broadband. Most phones
support 3G connections, but some older phones and very basic phones do not. When 3G
coverage is not available handsets will try and connect to the 2G network, where one is
available to them.
4G networks are currently dedicated to providing mobile broadband. Because these
networks are relatively new you may need to upgrade your handset and subscription to
access them. Most operators plan to upgrade their 4G networks to support voice services
during 2015, in the meantime when you make or receive a call your handset will switch
to 3G or 2G.
Your map is different to the operators’ maps. Why?
Ofcom's map uses data from the mobile operators about how strong they think signal
levels are at every location in the UK. Ofcom carried out field tests to measure the signal
strength required for mobile calls to work reliably on commonly used handsets. Each
mobile operator has a slightly different approach to displaying coverage on its own map,
including assumptions on the handsets used, levels of call reliability and the expected
signal loss when indoors or in car. Because Ofcom's map brings all of their data together
in a single place and holds it to a single, independent standard, our map may display
different levels of coverage than those seen on the operators' websites. Links to the
operators' maps can be found here:
We update our map regularly and the mobile network operators update theirs, but there
may be times when the maps are based on slightly different data and therefore show
different coverage.
If you would like to comment on the accuracy of Ofcom's map, click on the feedback link
below the map itself.
The map says that I should have good coverage but I’m not getting a
reliable service. Why?
The mobile coverage map is based on coverage predictions from the mobile operators.
These predictions are generated using computer programmes that simulate the way
mobile signals travel from mobile masts and are blocked by obstructions such as hills,
trees and buildings.Coverage can also be affected by the device that you are using.
Our own measurements of mobile signals in different parts of the UK have shown that
the computer models are usually accurate, but can sometimes be wrong. If you think the
predictions for your area are wrong then we would like to know, so please provide
feedback by clicking on the link below the map itself.
Predicting indoor and in car coverage is subject to large variations as signal loss can vary
significantly depending on the materials used. The Ofcom map reflects a typical signal
loss for a house or car, but in some cases the signal loss may be greater. For example, if
you are in a basement or in a house with thick stone walls.
Even when a signal is available, you may experience problems making calls or accessing
mobile data services. This is usually because of congestion, where lots of other people are
using the network at the same time and you are sharing the capacity of the mobile mast
with them.
Why is my mobile broadband speed slow or unreliable?
Mobile broadband is delivered using 3G and 4G networks. If you are in an area where
your provider only has coverage from their 2G network you should be able to get a very
low speed data connection, but web browsing and other services are likely to be slow and
unresponsive. If you are connected to a 2G network your handset will usually display
'2G', 'GPRS' or 'EDGE' at the top of the screen.
Even when you have a strong 3G or 4G signal you may experience a poor broadband
connection. This is usually because of congestion, where lots of other people are using
the network at the same time and you are sharing the capacity of the mobile mast with
If you are connected to a 3G network your handset may display '3G', 'HSDPA', 'H+' or
similar. 4G connections are usually displayed as '4G' or 'LTE' on the handset. Most
handsets support 3G, but you may need to upgrade your handset, and possibly your
subscription, to access your operator's 4G network.
The speed and reliability of 3G and 4G data can also be affected by the device that you
Can I cancel my contract if I can't get good coverage?
Check the provider's coverage before you buy a new contract (you can use our map and
we would recommend you also check the provider's coverage checker) and then try your
coverage as soon as you get connected. Try using your phone in the places you know
you'll need it (such as home, work and other important places). If you bought your mobile
contract at a distance (for example online or over the phone) and either change your mind
about your contract, or find that coverage is a problem for you, you can cancel your
contract under the statutory cooling off period that applies to the first two weeks. If you
bought your mobile contract in a mobile provider's shop, check with your provider as
many offer a 'check your coverage' cooling off period for contracts bought in store for the
first two weeks after you sign up.
How can I complain about my coverage?
You should contact your mobile operator in the first instance if you are having coverage
problems as they may have solutions for your problem. You'll be able to find contact
details and their complaints procedure on their website or on your paper bill.
If the coverage in your area is not as good as the map indicates then please let us know by
clicking the link to our feedback form below the map. While we cannot respond
individually to feedback, we will compile all the feedback received to seek to improve
the quality of the information.
For further information on how to complain to Ofcom about your provider, click here.
Though Ofcom is unable to get involved in individual disputes, we do log and monitor
the complaints we receive to help inform our decisions.
Ofcom uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our site. If you continue
without changing your browser settings, we'll assume that you are agreeing to our use of cookies.
Find out more by reading our cookies policy.
Follow Ofcom on Facebook Follow Ofcom on Twitter Subscribe to the Ofcom RSS Follow
Ofcom on YouTube Subscribe to the Ofcom Email Updates Follow Ofcom on Google+ Follow
Ofcom on LinkedIn
Further information
Site information
Contact information
About Ofcom
Email updates
Jobs at Ofcom
Legacy regulator sites
Cookies Policy
Terms of use
Contact us
Data Protection
Freedom of Information
Business Advice
© Ofcom
Email updates