Does Brexit Affect The UK Telecoms Market?

Does Brexit Affect The UK Telecoms Market?

After the white-knuckle ride of 2020, Brexit was ushered in with little fanfare. This has left many telecoms companies in the dark about what has changed, or is due to change.

Does Brexit affect the UK telecoms market? Yes, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

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What Exactly Is Going On With Brexit Legislation?

Brexit means that the UK now needs to rely on its own legislation rather than EU rules. The good news for telecoms companies is that the UK’s two main pieces of legislation were written fairly recently – the Communications Act in 2003 and the Wireless Telegraphy Act in 2006 - and follow the EU Common Regulatory Framework. This means that we will not suddenly be reverting to 1970s laws and standards, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.


Telecommunications technology evolves rapidly and this can pose a real headache for governments. As a result of this, the EU has created a new electronic communications directive. Known as the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), it came into force on December 21st 2020, and was immediately adopted by the UK. The two sides picked this date in order to ensure that telecommunications between the EU and UK would remain effortless post-Brexit, and it was included as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. This is good news for communications providers as it means that many of the practical elements of the industry will not change.

Some Minor Tweaks

Some small changes are planned for the legislation. For example, as we are no longer part of the EU, we do not need to notify matters to the European Commission. This legal requirement will therefore be deleted when the documents are updated. The same is true for issues relating to compliance with the EU’s Single Market. However, due to the UK agreeing to adopt the EECC legislation, the impact upon businesses should not be felt.

Continued Freedom For Ofcom

Ofcom was always given generous freedom under the EU. This was to enable competitive trading and also to ensure that services responded to changes in demand. For instance, the increasing internationalisation of businesses has pushed demand for VoIP, and this type of evolution is something that both Ofcom and the EU wish to promote. This type of healthy partnership is clearly articulated in the withdrawal agreement, enabling Ofcom to continue to focus on keeping markets vibrant.

Looking Beyond The EU

UK telecommunications providers can still trade within the EU, and this includes cross-border services. Many countries are still ironing out the creases of their individual trade agreements with the UK, but as the EU is highly focused on free trade, it is unlikely that there will be many barriers. Any UK based providers operating within the EU are now asked to consult the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which has a focus on fair competition and consumer rights.

Next Steps

Although Brexit might have benefitted from better communication, your company doesn’t need to get its wires in a tangle. For more information about how to continue operating overseas – or if you are thinking about expanding your international portfolio – please get in touch.

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