telecoms towers

'Open communications' – a data portability initiative – would enable people and businesses to share data about their use of telecoms services, held by their providers, with third parties who could help them navigate the market and get a better deal.


Alongside the wider smart-data initiatives championed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, is currently exploring a data portability initiative: open communications.

As part of the Innovate UK R&D Programme, the ODI convened a workshop with industry representatives to generate use cases for consumers and providers and to look at the potential benefits and risks of enabling people and businesses to share more information about their use of communications services.

Better products for consumers, better insights for service providers

This report represents the findings from the workshop and some initial thinking in this space, including the potential to provide better products to consumers, better insights to service providers, while acknowledging the risks of increasing access to data. It builds on our work from 2018 looking at open APIs in the telecoms sector.

Sector-wide data-access initiative

Making a sector more open is a long journey, but the communications data ecosystem is poised for such a change and Ofcom will not be the first organisation to attempt a sector-wide data-access initiative. Ofcom has been looking at similar initiatives in other industries such as open banking to understand what works best and what should be avoided. Importantly, Ofcom wishes to understand what combination of mandate, reward and opportunity will motivate organisations to change and ensure benefits reach as many stakeholder groups as possible.

We will be responding to the Ofcom consultation on open communications, and will openly publish that response. If you are interested in discussing open communications and data sharing in the communications industry with us more, please get in touch.

Download the report