One thing became very apparent in the days after the UK voted (with a very small majority) to leave the European Union: even people in the UK didn't seem to know what the EU actually stood for let alone citizens in more far-flung corners of the world. However, the significance of the leave result following the referendum on Jun. 23 is pretty clear to many as billions continue to be wiped off the value of companies and stock markets around the globe.
First, a disclaimer: I am British (English, to be precise) and I voted to remain. I won't disguise the fact that I am very shocked and saddened by the vote to leave, and believe the UK and the EU will be the poorer for it. I still hope -- vainly, perhaps -- that a "Brexit" can be avoided somehow.
Aside from this very personal view, I also believe the EU has considerably benefited the industry about which I write -- from growing harmony over spectrum allocations, net neutrality rules through to the eventual elimination of roaming charges in the EU. Of course, mistakes have been made along the way and the institutions are far from perfect, but consumers across the EU have benefited from this growing union in a number of ways.
As I write, the UK has yet to trigger the infamous "Article 50" of the Lisbon Treaty that would start the clock ticking on a two-year period of exit negotiations. What the ultimate outcome will be is frankly anyone's guess. As I've mentioned before, roaming charges and regulation are set to be two key areas to watch in the telecoms market, although myriad changes could take place.
UK operators will clearly not want to make any rash decisions on what to do next and will be waiting to see how the political situation unfolds.
As we discussed this week, there are nonetheless rumours about delays in planned IPOs (Telefonica's Telxius unit) and the relocation of HQs to another EU location (Vodafone). Nothing has been confirmed, but the indications are that we are in for some unsettling times ahead.--Anne