Ed Richards is to step down as chief executive of the regulator Ofcom at the end of the year.

Richards joined the Ofcom Board in March 2003. In July 2005, he was promoted to chief operating officer and became chief executive in October 2006.

Patricia Hodgson, Ofcom chairman, said: 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. He leaves an impressive legacy. On behalf of the Board I would like to thank him for his enormous contribution.

Ed Richards said: It has been a privilege to lead Ofcom during such an exciting and dynamic period in the evolution of the UKs communications sector. 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.

The chief executive of Ofcom is a public appointment made by the Ofcom Board and ultimately requires approval by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Zygos Partnership have been appointed to lead the search.