Ofcom will begin 2008 with a review into its regulation of the mobile phone industry, with de-regulation and increased competition its aim.
With operators seeking regulatory guidance from the courts, and a growing number of customers complaining to consumer helplines, the regulatory body has come under increasing pressure throughout 2007.
3 is currently involved in a porting dispute with its rival networks, while Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange have been given the go-ahead take their fight against the EU’s cap on roaming charges to the European Court of Justice.
Although complaints to Consumer Direct about contracts and cashback have dropped in the last few months of 2007, the overall total for the year is significantly higher than 2006.
A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: ‘The mobile sector is facing significant change, so the time is now right to conduct an assessment of Ofcom's overall approach to regulation of the sector. Our overall objective is to promote the interests of citizens and consumers through mobile services.
She added: ‘We can note at this stage that Ofcom's approach will reflect our well-established regulatory principles. These include a bias against intervention and the promotion of competition. We will be looking for opportunities to de-regulate where we can.’
Among the issues on the agenda are mobile mis-selling, including slamming and cashback, porting and the allocation of radio spectrum.
Ofcom intends to publish guidelines about the questions it will consider and its approach to the assessment early in 2008.