On 30 March 2017, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, published its annual plan for financial year 2017/18. It also published its budget and work programme for the year. The changes identified by Ofcom in relation to its responsibilities, markets and technology and the legislative framework under which it operates provide a great snapshot of current industry trends and issues.

Taking these in turn:


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On 30 March 2017, the UK’s Department for exiting the European Union published a white paper outlining its proposals for a Great Repeal Bill (GRB). Whilst superficially, this appears to bring clarity to the legal position after Brexit, on closer examination the GRB proposal over-simplifies the position and glosses over the very significant legislative (and consequential business) problems that will arise from the UK’s departure from the EU in the absence of a comprehensive and detailed free trade agreement between the UK and EU to enable many of the existing business arrangements to continue. Whilst much of the press commentary has focused on the impact of Brexit on the financial services sector, the same issue, disruption of existing business models as a result of leaving the single market, arises in almost every other sector of the economy, and certainly in the telecoms, media and technology sectors.

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On 24 March 2017, Ofcom started a consultation on proposed template contract terms as well as a code of practice and template notices to be used with the revised UK Electronic Communications Code (Code). The Code provides a statutory backdrop for the relationship between infrastructure based telecoms operators and landowners, with a revised Code to be introduced as part of the UK’s Digital Economy Bill. The drafts being consulted on represent the output of extended engagement by Ofcom with stakeholders from both the landlord and operator communities. Once adopted, the template terms, notices and code will from the starting point for standard market practice, so any interested parties who have additional issues or comments should use this consultation as a means of having their views considered. As discussed in more detail below, the level of indemnity and liability caps in the standard wayleave template are likely to be of material interest to both operators and landlords.
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