The EU referendum is rapidly approaching. June 23rd will be a very important day in the history of the UK, no matter which way the vote goes. In telecoms terms the most significant impact would most likely be if the UK population votes to leave the European Union. Let me explain my thoughts…
On April 30th 2016, the EU applies further charging caps on what the mobile operators can charge for roaming calls and data. If you are in Europe and either make mobile calls or use data on your smartphone, they will be much cheaper from that date. In 2017, they will be abolished altogether and you will simply use your contract bundle wherever you are in the EU. The most obvious change, if the UK left the EU, could be that this was no longer the case. A new agreement would be required. However, the precedent is there as other countries outside the EU such have Norway have signed up to the deal. The impact may be longer term if the EU starts to promote common tariffs to people visiting from outside the EU. Again as with other trade elements does that mean the UK could set lower costs or be left out?
Now back to the title of this blog. How could calling Scotland become more expensive? Everyone knows that Nicola Sturgeon is planning to hold another Scottish Referendum and if the UK were to leave the EU, this would leave the way for Scotland to have another referendum. If they did and voted to leave that would impact businesses with operations or customers across the two countries.
Calls from London to Edinburgh would then be international calls. If you were in Scotland with an English SIM card, you would be making roaming calls. If you check your LinkedIn status, you would be using roaming data and just how much would that cost you? If Scotland leaves the UK, it doesn’t mean it will be part of Europe and so you could incur Rest of World roaming data charges. For some mobile operators that is up to £8 per MB! Billshock could return!
There would also need an Ofcom for each country and potentially different pricing for lines and internet.
Still, this is all conjecture, so let’s see what we wake up to on the 24th June and go from there.