Broadband Stakeholder Group outlines Brexit implications on the digital communications sector

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.

The report details the challenges, risks and opportunities for the digital communications sector during the Brexit process. It highlights that the timing of Brexit is particularly acute as the sector is in the initial phase of a new investment cycle to bring the next generation of ultrafast and 5G technologies to UK consumers and businesses. Creating and maintaining a favourable environment for sustainable investment in digital infrastructure now and in the future is crucial for the UK economy and consumers

The UK Government can play a key role in supporting the industry by minimising risks to investment and innovation, and creating opportunities for the industry to continue to compete globally.

Regulatory predictability during this phase is critical and the Government can take measures to help preserve this, including re-committing to the current principles under which the sector operates. The report recommends the Government should also align with the current EU rules, which themselves are being amended, in the medium term.

There are issues which are outside of the Government’s direct control as they will form part of the exit negotiations with the EU. The report calls on the Government to work with industry to help preserve the continued implementation of regulations covering cross-border services – areas such as roaming charges and the Country of Origin principle for the delivery of audio-visual media services.

At a global level, the trade in electronic components and telecoms equipment represents a critical portion of telecom companies’ operations and is vital for the industry as it supports the development of networks and innovative communication technologies. The change of relationship between the UK, the EU and the rest of the world could impact this and Government can help mitigate the risks by working with industry and strengthening its influence in international standard bodies.

Richard Hooper, Chair of the Broadband Stakeholder Group said: “This report serves to highlight the complexities of Brexit for the digital communications sector. The UK has made a major contribution to the creation of the current European regulatory framework so there should be no reason that we cannot continue to promote and utilise those regulatory principles. Our sector is the bedrock of the wider economy, particularly digital industries which makes up around 16% of the UK’s economy[1]. Government must work with industry to provide as much regulatory certainty in the short to medium term whilst exploring the opportunities that Brexit can offer in the long term.???

The BSG has committed to continue to providing updates as the Brexit negotiations unfold and created the BSG Brexit Forum to discuss and review the recommendations of the report. The first Forum meeting will take place on Tuesday 13 June 2017 (2-4pm at techUK). If you wish to participate, please email [email protected]

Download our report here