Phone operators could make a killing from Brexit

The Brexit debate has been dominated by respected (and less respected) voices saying that the economy will suffer massively if Britain votes to leave the EU next week. Here’s a list – in no particular order – of people and bodies that have warned of economic strife ahead: the Bank of England, the Treasury, the International Monetary Fund, David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Balls, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. There are more, but you get the idea.

With this in mind, you’d have assumed that from a business perspective there would be no immediate winners, but economics and financial consultancy Oxera has found one: mobile-phone operators. In fact, they will end up losing £500 million per year in the event of a Remain vote.

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Don’t go expecting them to loudly shout about this, though, as the reasoning isn’t too PR-friendly. It’s all down to roaming charges: they’re being removed by EU states next year, but if Britain were to leave the EU, then UK operators would not be obliged to comply. And business being business, it’s unlikely the mobile-phone operators would abolish roaming charges unilaterally out of the goodness of their hearts.brexit_would_make_phone_companies_richer

Felipe Florez-Duncan, a partner at Oxera, commented: “While mobile roaming charges have recently been falling, if the UK chooses to remain in the EU these charges will be scrapped altogether in the next year, saving consumers millions of pounds. Making calls, downloading data and texting will all become considerably cheaper after 2017 if we remain in the EU.

“However, the impact to UK operators from this will be significant. Therefore it is inevitable that someone is going to end up out of pocket – but the question is, will it be UK operators under Remain, or British mobile-phone users under Brexit?”

Images: Morebyless and lazygamer used under Creative Commons

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