Digital Economy Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:49 pm on 13th September 2016.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 12:49 pm, 13th September 2016

I want to make some progress, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me.

To engage citizens digitally, we need the market for communications services to work for them. They need to be able to assess quality, and they need to navigate an increasingly complex array of choices. They also need to be confident that in making such choices they will not suffer hassle and disruption, and end up disconnected and out of pocket. The fact that recent surveys show that less than half of respondents trust their communications provider and that customer satisfaction in the sector is low is a real worry. The future of our economy depends on digital connectivity, and the Bill will address these problems head-on.

Consumers need information, but not the spreadsheets and reports that Ofcom produce. During the summer, the Competition and Markets Authority argued that to guide consumers in choosing banking services, apps need to be developed to guide consumers through the plethora of different products. This is no gimmick. These are technologies to empower consumers and drive the economy, and the communications sector is no different. The Bill provides the necessary powers to ensure that we can deliver this change—informing consumers, helping them to switch providers and compensating them if things go wrong.

Underlying such support for consumers, we need a strong and effective regulator that is able to tackle market failures and to keep the system in balance. Ofcom needs to make important decisions not just on implementing consumer-switching regimes, but on how core infrastructure is accessed and shared, how the radio spectrum is licensed and managed and how we can grow connectivity and capacity, migrating from yesterday’s copper to tomorrow’s fibre technologies.