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GUEST OPINION Brexit telecommunications: a fivefold increase in costs

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Rob Johnson takes a look at how Brexit has impacted the sector and what Telecom2 did for to solve a very Brexit-shaped problem for one of its clients

Most of us, at one time or another, will recall having the post-vacation blues made bluer by a substantial data charge as a result of having forgotten to turn our mobile data off when disembarking the plane.

You’d even hear tales of people roaming abroad and continuing to watch Netflix on their mobiles, resulting in charges in excess of £1,000. To the credit of the EU, this was put to a stop when they introduced legislation that forced MNOs to get rid of price discrimination and offer a uniform cost, regardless of where they were located in the EU.

And then came Brexit.

I observed the toing and froing of the Brexit negotiations with very little understanding of how my business would be impacted. When I asked those in a similar situation, it was usually met with a shrug; it appeared we were all in the same boat. There were a few vague mentions in the press about how the Wild West of EU data roaming charges wouldn’t become an issue again but, for the most part, there was very little talk of telecommunications.

Considering the industry employs 190,000 people (5% of whom are EU nationals) and contributed £32 billion to the UK economy in 2017, you might have expected a little more.

A Brexit-shaped problem solved

This week, however, it finally hit home when a client knocked on the door, seeking a quick and long-term solution to a Brexit-shaped problem.

As part of their business structure, they have several agents based in Spain, and calls from UK consumers transit to them. This made economic sense at the time, and the Spanish speaking agents were an asset. Brexit didn’t seem an issue until they got their phone bill. The calls landing in Spain had a cost increase of 500%. When they looked closer, they discovered that their UK telco provider (a renowned PLC) had included something called an ‘International Bill Surcharge’ which equated to an increase of over 10 cents per minute, and was rounded up to the minutes.

This is an issue that reaches beyond Spain, and is likely to be the same in every European territory.

So, what’s the solution?

Fortunately, for our client, we were able to help. Telecom2, through its portfolio of intelligent solutions, was able to bring their costs back down. This is not a grey route; it’s an established solution with contractual backing. My suggestion for anyone terminating voice traffic in EU territories is to check your charges now, as you’re unlikely to be informed of any changes and may end up in a similar situation to our client. In regards to data roaming, there’s an element of unknown. With Covid-19 putting a halt to international travel, it’s just a case of waiting.

My advice: hope for the best, prepare for the worst and proceed with caution.

Author

Rob Johnson is Chairman of Telecom 2. Contact him for help and advice at rob.j@telecom2.net or visit  www.telecom2.net

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