A Short Note on Scotland's Future – The Internet, Broadband and Telecommunications
22 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2013 Last revised: 24 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 1, 2013
The Scottish Government published proposals for the administration of an independent Scotland, its case for a vote in favour of independence in September 2014 and an outline of its manifesto in the Scottish parliamentary elections in 2016. Opinion polls continue to show that only about one quarter of the electorate favouring independence.
If there is a vote for independence, Scotland would become a member of the EU and comply with its acquis communitaire, join the Council of Europe, becoming a signatory to its conventions, and join the ITU, adopting its Radio Regulations. However, the provisions for broadband, Internet and telecommunications remain vague and without a timetable. There would be a junior minister within a Ministry of Culture, Communications & Digital, with a multi-sector economic regulator, a media regulator, a competition authority and a consumer protection body. Existing licences would be “honoured”. It is unclear whether the existing UK legislation will be converted into Scottish statutes or whether the EU directives will be transposed from scratch. Considerable attention is to be given to increasing services in rural areas, with calls for more fibre and 4G networks, whereas, the low levels of adoption of broadband in urban areas are ignored. Scotland will not request an ITU country code, but seek to continue to use the UK code of 44. It will not use an ISO 3166 two-letter country code top level domain, but instead "dot Scot" and existing UK top level domains. Significant omissions include provision for regulators of advertising and gambling. There is no mention of replacement for the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, perhaps appeals would be heard in the courts. Much will depend on negotiations between the Scottish Government and Her Majesty’s Government in London in the period between September 2014 and independence day on 24 March 2016. A complicating factor is the UK general election in May 2015.
Keywords: Telecommunications, Mobile, Broadband, Devolution, Governance, Competition, Regulation, Scotland, United Kingdom, Internet
JEL Classification: K20, K21, K23, L40, L50, L80, L90, L96, L97
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation