Guidance

How telecoms businesses will be impacted by the UK leaving the EU

How the telecoms regulatory framework will be affected by the UK leaving the EU.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

Check what else you need to do during the transition period.

During the transition period

The UK electronic communications regulatory framework is mainly contained within:

● the Communications Act 2003

● the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006

The EU Common Regulatory Framework is implemented through the above legislation.

This domestic legislation governs the regulation of the telecoms markets, guarantees basic user rights, and sets out the powers and duties of Ofcom as the national regulator, including how radio spectrum in the UK is managed.

The EU Common Regulatory Framework has been under review and a new electronic communications directive – the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) - was adopted by the EU in December 2018. EU countries have until 21 December 2020 to apply the new directive to their national law.

From 1 January 2021

From 1 January 2021, parts of the UK electronic communications regulatory framework would no longer be appropriate without corrections, for example the requirement to notify matters to the European Commission.

The UK framework also includes references to the EU’s objective of promoting the Single Market, and cross-references to EU obligations and Commission Recommendations that Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, will no longer have to comply with.

To ensure that the telecoms regulatory framework remains operable if there is no deal, secondary legislation under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018, was made in February 2019 to bring corrections into force on Exit day.

The government intends to implement the EECC during the transitional period because the transposition deadline of 21 December 2020 is before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020

Impact on the telecoms industry from 1 January 2021

We don’t expect significant impacts on how businesses operate under the telecoms regulatory framework and how consumers of telecoms services are protected after 1 January 2021.

This is because EU-derived rules applicable to communication providers and governing the way Ofcom regulates telecoms markets are implemented in UK law, will be corrected by secondary legislation under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. The rules on spectrum allocation and assignment would similarly be corrected so that the way Ofcom carries out these functions would be essentially unchanged.

Ofcom has always been able to and will continue to tailor its regulatory approach to the needs of the UK telecoms market. 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.

UK telecom operators will continue to be able to provide cross-border telecoms services and operate within the EU, under the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

Published 16 October 2020