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As Britain exits 2020 with COVID-19 and Brexit, it is the end of the world as we know it…

December 2020

 
…And I feel fine” is a 1987 song from American rock band R.E.M. that did better in the U.K. on its release in 1991 than in the US when it was first released! Although everyone on earth can’t wait to exit 2020, COVID-19 does not care and will certainly continue to alter our lives for months to come. That’s the first sure thing for everyone and in Britain, Brexit is the second one, and the decision to exclude China's Huawei from sensitive networks had made things even harder on the kingdom’s telecoms agenda. Who wants to dig trenches to pass a fiberoptic cable at the worst time of the pandemic? Combined together, these 3 events are already shaping the U.K.’s telecom 2021 landscape.

BREXIT starts with the economy in a funk

On the one hand, the pandemic made telecoms essential everywhere in the world; on the other hand, the pandemic shut down many economic sectors such as travel, tourism, sports and music events, and conferences to cite the hardest hit ones, and triggered uneven recessions. Among the world’s leading economies, the U.K. has been the hardest hit: its 3Q20 GDP was down 10% YoY while productivity was 3% higher than a year ago. Since the financial crisis, the U.K.’s stagnant productivity has been enigmatic, and the COVID-19 effect will certainly blur the picture further. Case in point, 3Q20 productivity grew 5.2% QoQ (see Figure1).
 
Figure source: House of Commons Library, UK Parliament

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