Ofcom CEO Ed Richards to leave at the end of 2014

Ofcom, the telecoms and broadcasting regulator for the United Kingdom, has started the search for a new chief executive after Ed Richards said he planned to step down at the end of December this year.

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Ed Richards

Richards has been on the Ofcom board since 2003 and took up the position of chief executive in October 2006 after a brief stint as COO.

"It is never easy leaving a job that you enjoy greatly but I have always felt that once I had completed eight years as chief executive this would be the right time to move on," said Richards.

The executive search process to appoint a replacement is being led by Zygos Partnership, and the post will be advertised nationally. Ofcom said it plans to complete the recruitment process early in 2015.

"Ed has been an outstanding chief executive. Under his leadership, Ofcom has helped to deliver superfast broadband, 4G, lower prices, innovation, competition, and sustainable public service broadcasting in the UK," said Patricia Hodgson, Ofcom chairman.

Certainly, Richards has been at the helm of Ofcom during what has been a period of huge change for the UK mobile communications market. His reign has also not been without controversy: as you would expect with any regulatory leader, it is impossible to please everyone all of the time.

He presided over the LTE spectrum auction in February 2013, but the fact that the auction raised less than government forecasts drew complaints from some MPs.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO)--which was tasked with conducting a study into the auction after a Labour MP raised concerns that the government failed to get value for money from the project--eventually found that Ofcom achieved its objective of maintaining a competitive market with a number of competing providers in the first major sale of radio spectrum in over 10 years.

However, when it reported its findings in March the national watchdog said it was not yet able to conclude that the auction was economically efficient.

Meanwhile mobile operators greeted Ofcom's plans to raise existing 2G and 3G fees with howls of protest. In August, Ofcom backed down slightly by revising downwards the proposed hike in fees.

For more:
- see this Ofcom release

Related Articles:
Report: Number of UK LTE users exceeds 6M
UPDATED: Ofcom cuts proposed hike in 2G, 3G spectrum fees
The changing nature of 'universal' comms services
UK LTE auction 'achieved objectives,' but economic efficiency still unclear
Ofcom talks up mobile price falls following criticism of plan to hike 2G spectrum fees

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