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Telecommunications: Issues and Recommendations in Advance of the Brexit Deadline

AUTHOR(S): Helen Kelly, Kate McKenna
PRACTICE AREA GROUP: EU, Competition and Regulatory
DATE: 19.03.2019

Operating in EU Member States: UK-headquartered telcos will not benefit from freedom to provide services and freedom of establishment in EU 

UK telcos will continue to operate under UK licensing system (currently based on EU framework), however, will not benefit from the freedom to provide services / freedom of establishment and will not have the automatic right to set up in other member states. The ability for companies to use the UK as a ‘launch pad’ into the EU will be hindered. 

Establishment in the UK by international telcos will become less attractive in a post-Brexit environment due to divergence in regulatory framework

Our recommendation:

UK-headquartered telcos with activities in Ireland should re-evaluate their structures with a view to realising the fullest possible benefits of EU regulatory harmonisation and the digital single market strategy. 

Cost uncertainty for Irish operators: Irish telcos may need to review commercial strategy for UK roaming    

Costs to Irish telcos may increase post-Brexit where UK telcos may impose higher wholesale charges in the absence of the EU Roaming Regulation where Irish telcos become ‘third country’ operators.  The potential cost uncertainty and commercial impact is huge given the large numbers of Irish telco customer who regularly travel between the UK and Ireland including in Northern Ireland border regions. 

Our recommendation:

Telcos should monitor closely the risk of UK telcos increasing costs in particular by introducing higher wholesale charges for EU operators (currently not possible under the EU Roaming Regulation).

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