Ofcom is to examine the position of Amazon, Microsoft and Google in the UK’s £15 billion cloud services market, saying that it wants to ensure that digital communications markets are working well for people and businesses in the UK.

Ofcom is also planning to look at digital services such as WhatsApp, Zoom and smart speakers, as online and traditional networks converge.

2. Ofcom

Ofcom: planning on looking at digital services, in a new market study

Ofcom’s probe of the UK cloud market will see it launch a market study under the Enterprise Act 2002.

The regulator noted that Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google collectively generate around 81% of revenues in the UK public cloud infrastructure services market.

The study will formally assess how well this market is working, and will examine the strength of competition in cloud services generally and the position the three ‘hyperscalers’ hold in the market. “We will also consider any market features that might limit innovation and growth in this sector by making it difficult for other companies to enter the market and expand their share,” said Ofcom.

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Ofcom said the study will begin the coming weeks and that it will publish its final report within twelve months.

If it finds the market is not working well, Ofcom can take one or more of the following steps: make recommendations to government to change regulations or policy; take competition or consumer enforcement action; make a market investigation reference to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA); or accept undertakings in lieu of making a market investigation reference.

Over the next year, Ofcom said it will also examine other digital markets, including online personal communication apps and devices for accessing audiovisual content.

It is interested in how services such as WhatsApp, FaceTime and Zoom are affecting the role of traditional calling and messaging, and how competition and innovation in these markets may evolve over the coming years.

Another future area of focus for Ofcom is the nature and intensity of competition among digital personal assistants and audiovisual ‘gateways’ – such as connected televisions and smart speakers – through which people access traditional TV and radio, as well as online content.

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