Brexit

Government publish no-deal legislation for telecoms

The Government last week published the Statutory Instrument (SI) covering the telecoms regulatory framework under the EU Withdrawal Act.

The affirmative SI will need to be actively approved by both Houses of Parliament and is largely technical in nature – correcting references or processes in legislation (eg Communications Act 2003) that were established to ensure a harmonized application of regulation across the EU. Naturally, as the UK will no longer be in the EU these are being removed.

However, there are some amendments which are more significant. In particular Government has decided that it does not need to replicate the EU Commission’s oversight role of Ofcom with a new third-party body. In the explanatory notes the Government explains that they understand the Commission’s role to be one of ensuring a standardized application of regulatory approaches across member states. Although most in industry would suggest that such an oversight body (rather than the Commission per se) provides a useful and cost-effective route to providing a challenge to regulatory decisions.

This goes against the recommendations in the BSG’s Brexit paper in which we argued that such a review process allowed for proper scrutinisation of decisions and helped maintain quality decision-making by Ofcom. It was assumed that the Competition and Markets Authority would be a suitable body, but Government has felt that this was unnecessary. Given that industry’s preference is to prevent a cliff-edge exit of the EU it is unlikely that these concerns will turn into full-blown objections but depending on the nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU it will be interesting to see how thinking on the regulatory framework develops.

In terms of Ofcom’s interaction with BEREC, full membership is restricted to the regulatory authorities of EU member states. Whilst Ofcom would be allowed to be an observer, Government has also made clear that it would be open to Ofcom participating further should this be made possible under the new BEREC Regulation.

Goals for a Gigabit Europe

A WIK conference held last week in Brussels sought to examine the likely impact of the recently agreed EU Electronic Communications Code especially as regards the EU’s goal to be a Gigabit society with greater fibre deployment, in line with the UK’s ambition to see nationwide full fibre roll out by 2033. The Code once fully adopted will have a two year time frame before the new rules will apply across Europe.

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Regulatory barriers continue to hinder European investment – at the FT ETNO Summit

The mood from The Financial Time-ETNO Summit today in Brussels was one of tentative, if not forced, optimism amongst the background feeling of missed opportunities from the recently agreed European Telecoms Code and the repeated sentiment that Europe is risking its potential for investment from the tech sector with its fragmented regulatory approach and low rates of return on investment.

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DCMS Select Comittee reports on Brexit Implications for the Digital Single Market

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has published its report into the Potential impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market. The report was produced in response to an inquiry launched in the Autumn of 2016 to examine priority issues for Government in its negotiations as it exits the EU. Particular attention was given to workforce, funding and the future regulatory environment issues. (more…)

Broadband Stakeholder Group outlines Brexit implications on the digital communications sector

  • Brexit comes at a critical investment period for the digital communications sector as we upgrade to the next generation of fixed and wireless technologies
  • The UK Government can help preserve investors’ certainty by aligning with EU rules for the medium term and re-committing to current regulatory principles
  • Retaining the UK’s current capacity to attract talent and resources will be key for the sector

The Broadband Stakeholder Group today published their first report on the implications of Brexit for the Digital Communications Sector, which directly contributes £30.2bn to the UK economy.

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BSG Comment – What does Brexit mean for the UK telecoms industry?

There is no straight answer to this question. The scale of the risks and opportunities for the telecoms industry depends on the future relationship between the UK, the EU and the rest of the world. The ramifications of decades of EU legislation, policies and initiatives in the UK system are difficult to untangle. However, it is possible to identify immediate concerns for the industry and how these could be tackled.

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Ofcom CEO Sharon White outlines her vision for a post-Brexit framework that ensures the right outcome for consumers

In a speech to the Institute for Government, Sharon White presented Ofcom’s priorities for the communications sector post-Brexit; stressing the need to retain a regulatory framework that works for UK consumers and UK businesses. Leaving the EU will mean “choices about replicating, or replacing??? EU laws, as well as opportunities for Ofcom “to preserve the best of the EU Framework???, “improve it??? and “avoid making things worse???.

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The UK telecoms sector post Brexit

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) hosted its Annual Conference on Monday 31 October 2016 with a focus on what Brexit means for the UK telecoms sector. Our speakers gave their views on where the opportunities and risks could be for the sector pre and post Brexit. We heard from a range of experts about the key role of European national regulatory authorities in shaping EU policies and regulations and how the UK telecoms regulatory system might evolve, in particular in the context of the review of the EU framework for communications.

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BSG Annual Conference – The UK Telecoms landscape after Brexit – Monday 31 October 2016

The Broadband Stakeholder Group is delighted to invite you to our free Annual Conference on Monday 31 October 2016.

The outcome of the 23rd of June referendum naturally sparked immediate debate and considerable speculation on the future of the UK post Brexit. The BSG Annual Conference of 2016 will focus on what the telecoms sector is looking for from the UK’s new relationship with the EU – and give a taste of how we will be able to exercise influence of EU decision-making. The all-day event will see experts exploring issues specific to the UK telecoms sector, considering the challenges but also the opportunities for the sector pre and post-Brexit.

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