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Mobile Phones: Competition

Question for Department for Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 216672, tabled on 1 December 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the levels of competition in the mobile backhaul market.

Answered on

4 December 2014

Ofcom, the independent regulator, is currently undertaking a review of the market for leased lines, which are used for mobile backhaul and for other applications. Ofcom published a call for inputs on 1 April 2014, as well as two interim consultations. The Regulator intends to publish full proposals for consultation in Spring 2015 and this will include an analysis of issues in relation to mobile backhaul.

The current regulatory controls on BT’s charges for leased lines, including those used for mobile backhaul, expire in April 2016.

BT has made no representations to DCMS about mobile backhaul. However, in the company’s response to the DCMS consultation on its Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy, BT made it clear that it was opposed to the mandating of ‘dark fibre’ access to its network. Access to dark fibre would enable other providers to compete with BT more easily in the provision of various communications services, including mobile backhaul, although BT’s response did not highlight this use.

I have had no discussions with Ofcom on the cost of mobile backhaul and leased lines in rural areas. The information collected by Ofcom, referred to above, will inform any such discussion in the future.