The Government plans to speed up the roll out of faster and more reliable mobile and broadband services through the changes in legislation introduced by the Digital Economy Act 2017 (the ‘Act’).
The Act, contains a new Electronic Communications Code, replacing the old and now somewhat outdated code originally enacted by the Telecommunications Act 1984.
The new code is expected to be brought into force as early as December 2017.
The changes to the code will
- make it easier for telecoms operators to upgrade and share equipment with other operators
- aim to increase coverage and improve networks in rural and other hard-to-reach places and promote investment in new technologies such as 5G
- reduce the costs of installing communication infrastructure on private land (through reforms to the system of valuation of land and by bringing down the rents payable to landowners so that they are more in line with other utilities providers such as gas and water).
- remove the tension caused by the incompatible drafting of the old code with Part II of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 (which deals with business tenant’s security of tenure)
- attempt to make the resolution of disputes between telecom operators and landowners easier.
The code gives telecoms operators certain rights to construct infrastructure and install and maintain equipment on both public and private land, so if you are a landowner and you have any telecommunications infrastructure or equipment installed on your land, and in particular if you are renewing or negotiating a new agreement with a telecoms operator, the forthcoming changes and transitional provisions will be of importance to you.
If you are concerned how these changes might affect you, or if you are currently experiencing difficulties with a telecoms operator and require advice, please feel free to contact Penni Gibbs: