The European Parliament and the Telecoms Council formally adopted the draft Electronic Communications Code and the BEREC Regulation. The Code is intended to reform and simplify existing Directives to overhaul the regulatory framework and put them into a single document. It is also intended to future-proof the framework to facilitate rollout of 5G networks by 2020, and strengthen security requirements. The new Code also enhances consumer protection (particularly for bundled services) and includes affordable and adequate internet in the list of universal services and also deals with infrastructure and technology investment and significant market power rules.
The BEREC Regulation gives BEREC a refreshed mandate to allow it to assist EU Member States with network roll-out and cheaper intra-EU call rates.
Both the Regulation and the Code will be published in the Official Journal (probably on 17 December), at which point Member States will have two years to adopt the Code (which is in the form of a Directive).
The UK government has said in its 'no deal' technical notice that it would be minded to implement the Code's substantive provisions under a similar timetable even if the UK has already left the EU by the time the Code applies.
The UK government's Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review was published by the DCMS in July, and focuses on the UK's full fibre and 5G targets. The DCMS says it will also use powers under the Electronic Communications Code to ensure full fibre is installed in areas where operators have no plan to do so. Plans also include giving telecoms operators enhanced rights to access ducts and poles owned by rivals or the dark fibre already in place to develop their own networks. The DCMS also says Ofcom should update its regulations to provide mobile network operators with greater rights of access to ducts and poles operated by Openreach.
In July, the government announced the creation of a new digital taskforce comprising stakeholders from academia, industry and the government, to advise on how data, AI and machine learning can be used to predict the UK's future infrastructure needs. The taskforce has been asked to report to the government with a roadmap to design and deliver a digital framework, which will include opinions on data sharing and government v private sector involvement.