18 May 2016

New Telecommunications Code

The relationship between electronic communications network operators and site providers in the United Kingdom is governed by the provisions of the Electronic Communications Code. Property owners who make their sites available to electronic communications operators, or who may be thinking of doing so in the future, need to be very much aware of the provisions of the Code.

Digital infrastructure is vitally important to citizens in the UK and the Government is seeking to enact legislation to provide for more extensive coverage, better connectivity and faster services.

To this end, the Government has recently published proposals for reform of the Electronic Communications Code which it is intended to take forward into primary legislation. You can read more details about the major details of these proposals in a briefing paper written by Michael Watson, Head of Property Litigation at Shulmans.

Michael has also commented, in an article published in The Telegraph, about the potential unintended consequences of the proposals. Michael claims that the main aim for mobile operators, who lobbied hard for the changes, was not to improve rural coverage but to cut the costs of adding more masts in cities where demand for data is spiralling. Michael says: “I think the Government haven’t appreciated exactly what the property industry will do in response to this.

“We have yet to see the specifics of the compulsory purchase mechanism proposed but in reality the major property companies are not going to take this lying down and in practical terms will not want masts at ‘no scheme’ rental rates so the result could even be a reduction in coverage.”

You can download Michael Watson's briefing paper on the proposed reforms to the Electronic Communications Code here (PDF version).