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Brexit Briefing

Government have published the second tranche of No Deal Brexit Technical Papers, intended to outline the sector specific impacts of a no deal Brexit in a number of areas. These have been reasonably low on detail and in the most relevant areas to INCA members say little that has not already been discussed.

Please find a brief summary of the papers on telecoms, mobile roaming and data protection below.

The collection of papers (which range from Driving licences to the handling of civil legal cases) can be found here.

What Telecoms businesses should do if there’s no Brexit deal


  • The UK electronic communications regulatory framework is mainly contained within the Communications Act 2003 and the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, which implement the EU Common Regulatory Framework.
  • The new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) is a review of this EU framework and is expected to be adopted by the EU in Autumn 2018. EU countries will have 24 months from adoption to transpose the new directive into their national law.
  • If the EECC is adopted by the EU before exit day but with a transposition deadline post-exit, 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 objectives.

In the case of a no-deal Brexit some parts of the EU framework will no longer apply, These corrections will be made via secondary legislation/statutory instruments under the EU Withdrawal Act and are expected this autumn, including:

  • the requirement to notify matters to the European Commission
  • references to the EU policy objective of promoting the Single Market
  • cross-references to EU obligations and Commission Recommendations with which Ofcom would no longer be required to comply

The rules on spectrum allocation and assignment would similarly be corrected so that the way Ofcom carries out these functions would be essentially unchanged

In a no-deal scenario, UK operators would continue to be able to provide cross-border telecoms services as well as operate within the EU, under the World Trade Organisation’s GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services).

Data Protection if there’s no Brexit deal

  • GDPR is incorporated into UK law in the Data Protection Act 2018.
  • A No-deal Brexit would not mean any immediate change in the UK’s own data protection standards due to the EU Withdrawal Act, however, there would be an impact on the transfer of data between the UK and the bloc. 
  • The UK Government will ensure the continued free flow of personal data from the UK to the EU, For data to be sent from the EU to the UK however, an adequacy agreement would be needed to establish close alignment, and the paper describes how the European Commission has not yet indicated a timetable for this but that it has stated that the decision on adequacy cannot be taken until the UK is a third country.
  • For the majority of organisations the most relevant alternative legal basis would be standard contractual clauses which are model clauses approved by the European Commission. In certain circumstances, EU partners may alternatively be able to rely on a derogation to transfer personal data.
  • The Information Commissioner will remain the UK’s independent supervisory authority on data protection and the UK will continue to push for close cooperation and joined up enforcement action between the Commissioner’s office and EU data protection authorities.

Mobile roaming charges if there’s no Brexit deal

  • Costs that mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing mobile services would no longer be regulated therefore meaning that surcharge-free roaming ‘could no longer be guaranteed’.
  • The Government would ‘legislate to ensure that the requirements on mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad is retained in UK law’ and the limit would be set at £45 per monthly billing period. The Government would also legislate to continue the current system of alerts at 80% and 100% data usage.
  • UK mobile operators would be able to make commercial arrangements with EU mobile operators in respect to roaming.

In its note, the Government highlights that Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone (which cover 85% of UK mobile subscribers) have ‘already said they have no current plans to change their approach to mobile roaming after the UK leaves the EU’.

As further information is made available we will endeavour to keep INCA members informed.