Telecomms watchdog Don Cruickshank has told the government he wants a committee to work with him in regulating the industry, rather than holding sole responsibility.
In his response to the government?s ongoing review of industry regulators, Cruickshank also said he wants ministers to take over responsibility for the ?social policy? aspects of his work, such as deciding how many and where phone boxes should appear.
This is the first time Cruickshank has commented publicly about how his remit could change since he was appointed four years ago.
He also called on the government to review the 1984 Telecomms Act to take into account the proposals of the new Competition Bill, which affects other utilities. Among the powers introduced by this Bill are the ability to fine companies in breach of its regulations up to 10 per cent of their revenues. ?He wants similar powers,? said an Oftel spokesperson.
Cruickshank believes a committee of regulators, appointed by the government, would better achieve consistency, transparency and predictability of rulings. Although he has experts at his disposal, he believes a panel of regulators with equal power would be more effective.
He said: ?The old term 'telecommunications' is fast becoming redundant. We are rapidly entering a world in which telecomms, broadcasting and IT are becoming indistinguishable and will revolutionise the way voice, pictures, and data are delivering over networks. To respond to this I believe the government needs to move as quickly as possible to introduce legislation which sets out a framework for regulating this complex communications market.?
The Department of Trade and Industry launched a review of utilities regulation in June. No reference was made to the previously mooted idea of merging Oftel and the broadcast content regulator, the ITC, to form a joint body known as Ofcom, responsible for content and infrastructure. However, the responses from current regulators will help the government with its decisions on such matters.
Any changes to the regulator's remit would take time to finalise since it could involve rewriting the Telecomms Act. The DTI is expected to publish its findings later in the autumn.
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