Supplementary letter from Ofcom
At our oral submission of evidence to the Committee
on 18 April 2007, we said we would provide supplementary written
evidence in response to a question posed by Lord Harris of Haringey.
Lord Harris asked how we interpret our duty
under section 14 of the Communications Act to ascertain the interests
and experiences of consumers that are incidental to, or connected
with, their experiences of communications services. Although Lord
Harris referred to section S 14 (1) (d) of the Act, this duty
falls under subsection (f).
We fulfil this duty in two ways: consumer research;
and engagement with stakeholders.
We carry out a substantial programme of research
to explore consumers' interests and experiences that are related
to communications services. Our poilcy projects often involve
empirical consumer research, and we use a variety of methodologies,
from quantitative surveys to deliberative workshops with members
of the public.
Some of our research is not tied to a specific
policy project, so we can form a broader picture of consumers'
experiences and concerns. For example, we carry out an ongoing
residential tracker survey, which aims to provide us with a continued
understanding of consumer behaviour in UK markets.
Our consumer experience research
mentioned in our previous written and oral evidence, will be repeated
on an annual basis. This includes broad, open and unprompted questions
that seek to explore consumers' concerns, without the research
being framed within the context of a specific policy project.
Our annual communications market report
also contains a significant amount of information on new trends
in consumer behaviour.
More broadly, we track changes in consumer demographics
and behaviour through additional analysis, including interpreting
secondary data (such as Office of National Statistics data on
demographic changes). We fund, jointly with other organisations,
research on breaking trends in consumer behaviour in communications
and other markets, in several countries.
Beyond research, we organise an ongoing programme
of stakeholder engagement with consumer and disability organisations,
to learn from their experiences. Engagement takes a variety of
forms, including bilateral meetings, informal email and telephone
contact, holding stakeholder events, and attendance at consumer
group meetings. We also will pilot an online forum for stakeholders,
so that they can discuss issues and provide further input into
Their input helps ensure that our work directly
addresses the interests of consumers. We also carry out a series
of events that are open to the public when consulting on our Annual
Plan, to help us assess whether our priorities reflect people's
1 May 2007
14 Ofcom must make arrangements for ascertaining:
(f) the interests and experiences of such consumers in relation
to other matters that are incidental to, or are otherwise connected
with, their experiences of the provisoin of electronic communications
networks and electronic communications services or of the availability
of associated facilities. Back