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No Deal Brexit could mean changes for telecoms industry and mobile roaming

No Deal Brexit planning guidance documents say there could be changes to the UK electronic communications regulatory framework, and sets EU mobile roaming cap at £45 per month

The second tranche of the government’s No Deal Brexit contingency planning notices say the telecoms market won’t be significantly impacted by Brexit, but there could be some changes.

The planning notices aim to prepare organisations and citizens on changes likely to take place should the UK leave the EU with no deal.

In the paper on telecoms, the government said changes could depend on whether the European Electronic Communications Code is implemented by the EU before March 2019. 

It added that should the UK leave the EU without a deal, parts of the UK electronic communications regulatory framework would “no longer be appropriate without corrections”. This includes any references on EU policy on the single market and EU obligations.  

“If the EECC is adopted by the EU before exit day but with a transposition deadline post-exit (likely to be 24 months from autumn 2018), the government would be minded to implement, where appropriate, its substantive provisions in UK law, on the basis that it would support the UK’s domestic policy objective,” the paper said.  

A significant chunk of Ofcom’s powers and duties falling under the 2003 Communications Act are derived from EU frameworks, however, the government said the regulator would “continue to “be able to tailor its regulatory approach to the needs of the UK telecoms market”.  

“In a no-deal scenario, this approach would continue to be founded on the regulatory principles implemented presently in UK law, which aim to encourage competitive markets and guarantee consumer rights,” it said.

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However, despite the potential changes, the government said that leaving the EU without a deal would not have “significant impacts on how businesses operate under the telecoms regulatory framework and how consumers of telecoms services are protected”.

The paper on mobile roaming echoed commitments made by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab earlier today (13 September), promising that huge mobile roaming charges in the EU won’t return, even in the event of a no deal.  

The paper said that should the UK leave without a Brexit deal, roaming charges won’t be regulated anymore, and no guarantees could be made to ensure surcharge free roaming.

However, Raab said the government would “legislate for a limit on roaming charges to make sure, in a no-deal scenario, that we protect British consumers”.

The paper said the limit would be set at £45 “per monthly billing period”, and would also include legislation to ensure the mobile network provider alerts the consumer at 80% and 100% data usage, as per today.

“The availability and pricing of mobile roaming in the EU would be a commercial question for the mobile operators. As a consequence, surcharge-free mobile roaming in the EU may not continue to be standard across every mobile phone package from that point,” it said.

Several mobile network operators, including EE, Vodafone, Three and O2, have already said they do not plan on bringing back charges.

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