On 8th December 2023 the communications service regulator Ofcom launched a Resilience guidance consultation and call for input on mobile RAN radio access networks power backup. The consultation is based on the proposal for updated guidance for communications providers on resilience-related security duties under the Communications Act 2003. The consultation will close on 1st March 2024.

The consultation document identifies significant ongoing risks to the resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks and services. These include technological innovation, cyber-attacks, interdependencies with other critical infrastructure sectors, and climate change. Highlighting the impact of network outages in society, a particular concern is the resilience of the communications system during emergencies and disasters.

Ofcom is proposing to update existing resilience guidance to provide greater clarity on how providers of public electronic communications networks and services (PECN and PECS) can comply with their security duties under a new framework for security and resilience that came into force in October 2022.

Within this consultation is an additional call for stakeholder input on the power backup systems for the mobile radio access networks (RAN) (Section 5). These systems rely on continuous electrical power, with significant ramifications for service interruptions. The call for input sets out a framework for assessing measures for network operators that would be considered proportionate and appropriate to the risks on the RAN from electrical power loss. The proposal currently suggests a minimum backup supply of one backup supply. Stakeholders are asked to consider this proposal and framework with the additional risks associated with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN) switch over to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, extreme weather events and climate change.


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