Brexit implications for UK/EU mobile telecoms: choppy waters ahead

Analyst: Declan Lonergan

In a recent report, we assessed the implications of Brexit for the technology sector. This included potential effects on skills and people, research programs, datacenter location, privacy laws, siting of businesses, tariffs and taxes, grants, currencies, infrastructure and other areas. In this report, we focus on the mobile telecom sector specifically, to assess how Brexit will affect UK and EU markets and their participants. On balance, we believe uncertainty and its destabilizing effects – both at the macroeconomic level and for the telecom industry specifically – will outweigh any potential benefits that could arise, for example, in relation to greater regulatory sovereignty for the UK.

The 451 Take

The short-term uncertainty caused by Brexit will eventually give way to a different long-term operating reality. The competitive landscape for telcos will not be affected directly, at least not in the short term. None of the existing players is likely to re-evaluate its commitment to the market as an immediate response to the Brexit result. Similarly, the impact in areas like industry regulation and even mobile roaming charges are unlikely to materially change, even if the UK is excluded from the single market. There may even be some upside for the UK players, with the potential for telecom regulatory policies to be adapted more effectively to the specific needs of the UK market. But that's where the good news ends and uncertainty begins. Following the referendum result – and depending on the exact nature of the UK-EU separation – there are potential negative effects in relation to macroeconomic weakness, reduced demand for telecom services, constrained network investments, and more restrictive employment options. Eventually – as it always does – a new normal will emerge, but for the next two to three years at least, the UK telecom market is heading for choppy waters.

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The Coming Revolution: 5G and its Impact on IT

For the next decade, a fifth generation (5G) of mobile communications is promising to target larger volumes of data transport, dramatic expansion of wireless device scale and integration of mobile communications into devices serving civilization, driven by diverse use cases such as virtual reality, smart cities, smart grid, autonomous driving, massive sensor deployments and machine communication, among others. 5G is expected to bring communications and computing even closer together, building on the adoption of 4G in the mobile sector.

As it stands at present, views on the extent of the impact of 5G mostly fall into two camps: The first of these is that 5G is an important, next-stage evolution of 4G and LTE, introducing new speeds, efficiency and bandwidth; the second, and far more revolutionary view, is that it represents the final and critical convergence of computing and IT, the final move to packet-based networks, and the beginning of seamless and ubiquitous information and control. In our view, given the rapid emergence of IoT applications, both of these views justify the interest and excitement around 5G.

In this forward looking webinar, we'll discuss the coming generation of wireless technology known as 5G, and the findings of our recently published report, "The Coming Revolution: 5G and its Impact on IT". Fresh from Mobile World Congress 2016, the presenters will place 5G in the context of the evolution of both wireless technology and the wider IT market; discuss some of the key drivers and barriers to adoption; and consider how 5G might act as a catalyst to innovation.

Register now! 
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