What is Telecommunication?
Put simply, it is the exchange of information between communicating participants using technology. Once upon a time the universal method of social communication over distances was the telephone and the spoken words. The method of transmission of the information was much more limited, predominantly electrically over physical media, such as cables. The use of the electromagnetic spectrum as the method of transmission, was predominantly limited to radio transmissions. Today, technological advances and our use of the electromagnetic spectrum for transmitting data, means that our method of communication over any distance, be it by picture, word, video or voice can be achieved over a variety of media, ranging from smartphones to computers, wherever we want and wherever we are. Communication itself is not limited to humans, it can also involve computers and other devices exchanging information – just look up the definition of the internet of things on Wikipedia, to find out more! The Telecommunications sector makes £billions a year and is ever expanding. Companies such as UBER could not exist without it. So anytime you are picking up your mobile or your i-pad to communicate, surf the web or whatever, the telecommunications sector is somehow engaged.
This involves both private disputes between contracting parties at various parts of the service chain from network operators, mast site providers to content providers, and public disputes between the telecommunications regulators and the market players. Since telecommunications is considered to be an essential public utility, it is regulated by OFCOM.
The UK Communications Act 2003
The provision of UK telecommunications services is subject to an EU regulatory regime, which in this jurisdiction is under the legislative framework of the Communications Act 2003. This Act implemented a set of core EU directives from 2002, which were designed to provide the core regulatory framework for electronic communications in Europe and to modernise and further harmonise communications regulation across the European Union.
It is obvious to telecoms lawyers that Brexit will now bring its own challenges to the telecommunications sector as over a decade and a half of harmonization will begin to unravel!
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