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01st November 2016

New Reforms to the Electronics Communication Code

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The new reforms reshape the framework of the communications sector.

The Government recently published its reforms to the Electronics Communications Code. The existing Code which had been described as one of the least coherent pieces of legislation regulates the relationship between landowners and telecoms providers.

Since the Code was first established in 1984 the telecoms sector has changed vastly, 4G coverage now reaches 90% of all UK premises and in 2015 UK data subscriptions increased to 84million. The new Code addresses the demand for faster services and extensive coverage by encouraging long term investment and the development of a more robust digital communications infrastructure.

The proposed reforms allow providers greater access to land. Telecoms providers now have similar rights to utility companies as the new Code allows for a reduction in their rental expenditure. Other reforms make it easier to maintain infrastructure. Operators will have automatic rights to upgrade and share so new technology can be deployed as soon as it comes into the market and no extra fees will be charged where adverse visual impact is minute.

In addition the reassignment of code rights will be enshrined so landlords can no longer renegotiate terms of an existing contract where assets are sold or acquired. Perhaps one of the most important changes is that the rights under the new Code will continue to apply to land even when it is bought and sold and there is no requirement to register those rights. To ensure investments are not held up it is the intention that disagreements between providers and landowners will be resolved by efficient Specialist Tribunals and contracting out of the Code is prevented.

The new reforms reshape the framework of the communications sector seeking to strike a balance between the interests of the landowners, communication providers and the public interest so allowing for the provision of a world class digital communication infrastructure.

For further information please contact Patricia Kempson on 01604 463352 or click here to email her.