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2021 Industy Update

28th January 2021  by Union Street

There are several regulatory changes scheduled over the next two years. This article provides an overview of the changes we think will impact communications providers the most.

BREXIT

The telecoms industry should be largely unaffected by the UK leaving the European Economic Area (EAA). There are only a few minor changes in our industry to be aware of:

  • New VAT rules came into force on the 1st January 2021. VAT rates on services consumed in EU countries will need to be adjusted accordingly.
  • The cap on the cost of calls and texts from the UK to the EU/EEA countries will no longer apply from 1 January 2021.
  • Surcharge-free roaming when you travel to EU/EEA countries will no longer be guaranteed from 1 January 2021. This would include employees of UK companies travelling in the EU for business.
    • The mobile operators (Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone) have all stated that they have no current plans to change their mobile roaming policies.
    • The government has also stepped in on this point to protect consumers from unexpected charges. A legal limit of £45 per monthly billing period has been applied to mobile data usage while abroad.
    • Users will be unable to continue to use mobile data services when roaming unless they actively choose to continue spending.
    • The government has also legislated to continue to ensure that consumers receive alerts when they are at 80% and 100% data usage.

More information can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-your-mobile-in-eu-and-eea-countries-after-the-uk-leaves-the-eu

OFCOM

Ofcom has given the channel a bit of a break this year on big regulation updates and billing affecting changes, focusing its efforts on consumer connectivity in the home instead. With more people now working from home and children needing to learn from home, it’s important that everyone has access to good quality broadband and mobile connectivity.

Fairness for customers is a campaign that Ofcom has been working on for a number of years and has seen regulations such as Mobile Bill Limits, Mobile Number Portability, and end of contract communication implemented.

As part of this work, Ofcom has announced the following changes over the next two years which also covers the implementation of the new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC).

  • From December 2021, Ofcom is banning mobile providers from selling ‘locked’ devices.
  • Also from December 2021, customers will be able to request all communications about their service (except for marketing materials), to be sent in a format that meets their needs (such as in braille).
  • From June 2022, Ofcom are enforcing better contract information and stronger rights to exit.
    • Customers will be given information they need in writing before they sign a contract, including a summary of key contract terms.
    • Customers will have the right to exit their contract during the period they are locked into without penalty. This is applicable if the provider makes changes to the contract, unless the proposed modification is exclusively to the benefit of the customer.
    • This right to exit will also apply to other services or equipment bought as part of a bundle with a communications service.
  • Currently planned for December 2022, Ofcom is implementing the following to make switching easier and more reliable for telephone and broadband services:
    • The ‘gaining provider led’ process will offer a seamless switching experience regardless of whether the switch is across different fixed networks or between providers that use the same fixed network.
    • Any loss of service that occurs during a switch must not be longer than one working day and providers must compensate customers if things go wrong.
    • Notice period charges are being banned beyond the switch date for residential customers switching their fixed services.
    • The Ofcom consultation for this is due to be released during January 2021 which will provide further information.
  • Some new terms for customers have been introduced:
    • Microenterprise Customer or Small Enterprise Customer – means a business customer with no more than ten employees (including volunteers), that is not a Communications Provider.
      • This replaces the current Small Business Customer which has been withdrawn.
  • Not For Profit Customer – means a customer which is not a Communications Provider, has no more than ten employees (excluding volunteers) and is required (after payment of outgoings) to apply the whole of its income, and any capital which it expends, for charitable or public purposes; and is also prohibited from directly or indirectly distributing among its members any part of its assets (otherwise than for charitable or public purposes).

 

OPENREACH

Openreach’s WLR withdrawal plan is beginning to pick up pace and whilst the December 2025 deadline may seem some time away, the ‘stop sell’ phase of the programme has begun and is now actively being rolled out across UK exchanges this year.
The following products are included in the withdrawal:

  • WLR3 analogue
  • ISDN2
  • ISDN30
  • LLU SMPF
  • SLU SMPF
  • Narrowband line share
  • Classic products

Below is a link to the Openreach portal where all the info can be found about the stop sell and WLR withdrawal plans.

https://www.openreach.co.uk/cpportal/products/product-withdrawal/wlr-withdrawal

FURTHER INFORMATION

We hope you have found this update useful. Should you require any further information, please contact us.

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