How will Brexit effect the telecoms industry? Should I be worried? | Knutsford Times

How will Brexit effect the telecoms industry? Should I be worried?

By on August 15, 2017

It is safe to say that many people were surprised from the outcome of Brexit. However you voted it wouldn’t be a large stretch of the imagination to say you still wouldn’t have thought that the whole of the UK would have voted to leave. In any case the situation the UK are now left with is trying to get the best deal for everybody when we actually come to the logistics of leaving the EU. While all of this is going on in the background many people are questioning what this will mean for certain industries and businesses. Many people in and outside of the industry have been questioning what this means for the telecommunications industry. There are going to be many different impacts on telecommunications when the Brexit deal is finalised.

What does this mean for infrastructure?

Experts have speculated that Brexit may actually have a positive effect on the infrastructure of future telecommunications. There are a few things that could be set to be better following us leaving the EU.

Broadband

Many people who have nothing to do with the industry do not realise this but the broadband in the UK is actually quite far behind in advancement compared to places like America. There are almost six million people in the UK speculated to have still not gotten sufficient broadband connectivity. While MPs have been repeatedly accused of failing to invest in the network – it looks like broadband will get a boost from the increased powers that Ofcom will have after Brexit. At the moment 90% of Ofcom’s legal basis is owned by BT, but when Brexit is put in motion the relationship between BT and Ofcom will become a lot more distant – giving them the opportunity to act more in the interests of the consumer.

Data roaming

As laws have just come in to stop mobile phone providers charging their customers extra to use their data abroad, many people are questioning where Brexit will leave this legislation. Although it may sound like something that is a negative because it is regulated by the EU, many industry insiders are speculating that this could lead to mobile providers offering more competitive tariffs across the board and not just for roaming in Europe.

What does this mean for regulation?

The landscape of telecommunications will probably get the most changes after Brexit when it comes to regulation. Many consumers do not realised how intrinsically tied to EU regulations the UK’s own telecommunications systems are. There are many different layers to this and when they change there is no doubt that it will make big waves in the industry for professionals and consumers alike.

EU Directives

Most of the current telecommunications law is based on EU directives. All of the separate EU directives make up what is the regulatory framework. The EU gives each member state the opportunity to transpose these directives into their own law, and in the UK’s case this has mainly been done by the 2003 telecommunications act. This act is largely based on the directives set out by the EU which are created to be beneficial to each member state. Once we leave the EU we will be free to shape and create our own telecommunications act to make it beneficial for residents of the UK on a more personal level. As the UK legislation works in its current form – it is unlikely that any large changes will be made in the wake of Brexit.

Customer access

If you have ever been to a country in Asia or South America, you will find that you may sometimes be surprised about the websites you are allowed to access. There are many websites that are blocked in the EU and it remains to be seen if the UK will carry this on or change the legislation. This could also have an effect on the websites that you can access. Many have an agreement that is EU wide to agree to provide access to their services across the entire EU, so when the UK cease to become a member stat this could mean negotiating new and separate deals with the websites themselves. This can also have an impact on certain streaming services. Many streaming services have a blanket agreement across the EU and when Brexit is put into motion it is more than likely that new agreements will be brokered. While it is unlikely that this will mean anything different in the short terms for consumers who use services like Netflix – it is still something to be mindful of in the future as along with the new terms could come new and higher prices.

Privacy

Net neutrality and privacy seem to have finally reached a degree of harmony under EU laws. In light of recent terror attacks the EU has called on large companies like Facebook and Whatsapp to make it easier for investigators like Interpol to access private conversations. It remains to be seen if this is something that the UK will be willing to carry on when they are split from the EU. It is unlikely that the UK will look in any way to change the existing data protection act so regular citizens look set to keep the degree of privacy they are used to enjoying under EU law. When Brexit severs ties between the EU and the UK when it comes to internet transparency it seems likely the UK will look to lean heavily on the USA for help and advice in developing new regulation. It is likely that any new privacy regulation to the telecommunications industry will be linked heavily to things like border control and watchlists.

What are the key points?

Trying to find your way through Brexit is hard enough but the telecommunications industry is wrapped up in many complicated layers that all look set to unfold separately. There are a few key points to remember when it comes to the effect Brexit is set to have on this particular industry:

– Ofcom will have more control, and will no longer need to notify the EU if they wish to create a new regulation or deregulation
– Mobile phone providers will no longer be asked to make data roaming a fair price
– This could mean a benefit in broadband access. It is likely that now we do not need to pay into the EU infrastructure will be something the government invests into in a large way
– We may lose a degree of privacy. With the USA steaming ahead underneath Trump with laws to tighten this up it is very likely that we will follow their lead
– Nothing is going to change immediately. The ground level consumer will not need to worry about these changes for a good few years to come
– Prices may rise. In the short term this will not be a problem, but many streaming services and broadband services that are controlled outside of the UK will now need to broker new deals with the government

For more advice on the future of telecoms, visit the Number Supermarket Advice Centre – where you can find all sorts of information about calling, costs and how to purchase telephone numbers for your SME, too.

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About Matthew Britton

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