Read Ed Richards's Power 50 profile for 20124 June 2012
A force for good or a needless meddler? Speaking to most operators about Ofcom’s plans for the forthcoming 4G auction, they would say the latter. None of the major networks were happy with the regulator’s latest set of proposals for the auction, whether it was because one operator might come
to market first, it wasn’t getting the spectrum it had hoped for, or it felt a rival was getting an unfair advantage.
However, it could be argued Richards’ stewardship has been a shrewd one, given that you
can’t please all of the people all of the time. ‘His authority in the role of shaping what comes next for connectivity in the UK is absolutely crucial,’ said one observer. ‘If connectivity is as important to the 21st century as electricity was to the 20th for the wealth of nations, Ofcom is at the heart of that.’ While
4G has grabbed the headlines, Ofcom has also worked on trying to eradicate unexpectedly high bills
and eliminating the cost of calling freephone numbers from mobile phones.
Richards, a former advisor to Tony Blair, has a difficult couple of months ahead, with the auction rules for the 4G auction due this summer. Go too far, and he risks legal action and the nation falling further behind in rolling out next generation mobile networks. The wrong set of proposals could damage the mobile industry until the next allocation of spectrum is farmed out. No pressure then, but given he is in the frame to take over as director-general of the BBC, he might be well clear of any fallout.