Entries in Regulation (7)


Avoiding a regulatory chimera

In this paper for Chorus, Brian Williamson reviews the proposed approach to fibre regulation in New Zealand which would involve a combination of an anchor product, revenue cap and passive access (on commercial terms). The paper concludes that the proposed set of remedies would be overly constraining on service and pricing flexibility, and that a lower service level anchor product alone would be sufficient, without the addition of a revenue cap.


Deconstructing the “level playing field” argument – an application to online communications

In this paper for Facebook, Brian Williamson deconstructs the "level playing field” and “same service same rules” arguments in relation to online communications and rich interaction apps. The paper concludes that these arguments do not stand up to scrutiny - technology and market differences matter.

Legacy communications services enjoy competitive advantages due to vertical integration with network access, and regulation relates in part to problems related to numbering and vertical integration, for example, the so called call termination monopoly. A forward looking approach would be to roll back sector specific regulation where possible, rely more on general horizontal competition, consumer and data protection law and recognise that technology and market differences matter - regulation should be problem driven, focussed and proportionate.


Evidence-based, light-touch regulation?

In February 2016 Ofcom published its Initial conclusions from the Strategic Review of Digital Communications. This response, by Rob Kenny and Brian Williamson, suggests that Ofcom's report does not live up to its aspirations to be evidence-based and light-touch.


Forecasting domestic UK broadband demand, 2013-2023

Communications Chambers were commissioned by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) to develop a model (and summary report) that  seeks to forecast UK domestic demand for broadband capacity. As far as we are aware, it is the first such model to be put into the public domain. 

The model combines the usage profiles of various applications with the usage of profiles of individuals. These individual profiles are then combined into various household profiles. 156 household profiles are modelled in the report, based on demographics, intensity of use and TV type.  The household profiles have also been combined to create a picture of national demand.
The work was supported by BSkyB, BT, Ofcom, TalkTalk, Three and Vodafone.
You can download the model, report and press release below. Comment and feedback is invited.

You may also be interested in subsequent work using a similar methodology:


New approaches to regulating online platforms

Mark Bunting has published two papers, in the Journal of Cyber Policy and Intermedia, discussing policy regarding online platforms (linked to other Communications Chambers work for Apple and Sky).


Both articles consider possible regulatory responses to the role of digital platforms in governing online markets and as gatekeepers to online content and communication. Platforms bring huge benefits of choice, openness and efficiency. But with concerns growing about the risks, unintended consequences and abuse of open platforms, many governments are considering what form of regulation may be needed. However, bad regulation may be worse than no regulation at all.


Intermedia (the journal of the International Institute of Communications) has published a paper coauthored by Victoria Nash (Oxford Internet Institute) and Mark. They argue that effective oversight of platforms requires creative, robust but proportionate regulation. The benefits of platforms should not come at the expense of citizen, consumer or worker rights. Yet platforms are diverse and raise novel concerns. Lifting-and-shifting old regulation to new models is unlikely to be effective. Problems need to be evidenced and solutions developed collaboratively.


In the Journal of Cyber Policy (subscription only, but eprints available from Mark at, Mark coins the term 'procedural accountability' to describe a way for platforms to achieve legitimacy in their handling of harmful or illegal content, without being held to unrealistic standards of perfection. Platforms are not publishers, and should not be held generally liable for content uploaded by their users. But their role in monitoring and filtering content, and in making judgements about its legality, is increasingly significant. New institutional arrangements will be required to assess the impacts of this activity and ensure due process.