UK Government seeks views on potential ‘Open Communications’ scheme

Ellie Duncan
19 Sep 2023

The UK Government has launched a consultation to understand whether the telecoms market might benefit from the introduction of an “Open Communications” scheme and the challenges if it does.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s consultation is inviting feedback on what it called the three “core elements of any future Open Communications scheme”, namely, the organisations that should participate, the data made available by it, and how data should be shared with consumers.

Among those being invited to participate in feedback are internet service providers, mobile network operators, and technology companies – such as banks and price comparison sites – that may seek to use Open Communications data, or be within the scope of a Smart Data scheme.

The consultation has been designed to explore the “merits” of establishing a smart data scheme for telecoms, in particular the ways it may support consumers and the effect it may have on the market more broadly.

Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “This consultation seeks to understand whether the telecoms market may be easier to navigate and made more accessible for consumers by the introduction of a smart data scheme – Open Communications.

“This consultation asks whether a Smart Data scheme, which would require broadband and mobile operators to provide their customers – on request and with their consent – information about their own connectivity service usage, may support consumers to more easily find deals which best suit their needs and their budgets – which is particularly important as people contend with the rise in the cost of living.”

The Department for Science, Technology and Innovation intends to use the data and views collected by this consultation to determine whether to progress with an Open Communications scheme.

If an Open Communications scheme is introduced in the UK, broadband and mobile companies would be required to provide their customers, on request, with data about their telecoms service, such as the price they pay, their download speeds and the data they use.

The consultation is set to close on 13 November 2023.