Will data networks be affected by a Brexit?

Maintel's Brian Mackow-McGuire wonders if a Brexit have a big impact on your networks and network providers (or not at all)?

Everyone has an opinion on the upcoming referendum. Whether it’s leave or remain or still torn, it’s an emotive issue, laden with complexity and many different perspectives. And all of this got me thinking (being a data specialist by trade) about how a Brexit vote might potentially affect our networks – and there are a number of considerations in this area.

So what are these considerations? Firstly, the single European market. What strikes me here is that despite many customers I’ve dealt with wanting a single provider and a consistent solution, they haven’t actually treated the EU as a single market when it comes to managing and operating their own networks.

Sure, on the one hand they’d like to have a single supplier, a single point of contact, a single SLA and just one over-arching contract. But on the other hand, they’d also like to be invoiced in-country. Additionally data, or call detail records, may need to stay within the EU – but not necessarily in-country.

What about tax relief? Ultimately, customer behaviour is driven by simple economics and the need to easily and painlessly be good citizens, paying the correct amount of tax. And that includes claiming back the VAT etc. which they are eligible to get relief on. To reclaim VAT, it’s best to have an operating legal entity in-country which is trading and able to claim the tax relief. So, the main driver is to help your accountants align tax receipts, even simple VAT becomes difficult to reclaim, if not absolutely impossible, across borders.

Thus, Pan-European (EU) operators face the same challenges as global operators - customers who want a global service with the same SLA, features and functionality. Customers want to be billed locally to help reclaim taxes and tax relief. They want all bills to be in a local currency to help accounts and avoid complex currency provisions. But they want all this with a global Single Point of Contact (SPoC), answering in the local language!

Given these requirements, and with most CIO’s being pragmatists, it is practical to take a step back and consider the benefits of a single provider versus the benefits of simple accounting and transparency.

Rather than trusting a larger, global provider to knit together services across multiple locations, languages and currencies - a typical CIO would prefer to increase internal complexity, dealing with local and regional providers but benefiting from a greater transparency of SLAs, charges, taxes and currency.

Finally, the customer typically wants to operate within the local regulations in each country to avoid difficulties. One example being simple non-geographic numbering (0800 xxx xxx, 0845 etc.) which presents a whole regulatory snake pit all of its own, before the caller even gets to the IVR and different regulations across Europe for call management.

So, whether the UK decides to remain or leave the EU, decision making on networks, deployments, and operations are not going to be materially affected in my view – until that is the business itself sees a change and the network needs to respond quickly and efficiently to that change.