A new Code for telecommunications apparatus came into force at the end of 2017. The code will apply to mobile phone masts but also any wire, cable, tube, pipe or similar thing, used in connection with the provision of electronic communications. The new Code is a Government attempt to make the roll out of mobile and broadband networks easier. Whether that proves to be the case, given the practical implications of the Code referred to below, remains to be seen.
Important Changes In The New Code
There are some important changes brought into effect by the new Code:
- Operators will have an automatic right to both upgrade and share telecommunications apparatus. These rights will exist irrespective of the terms of any relevant or occupational agreements;
- Operators will be permitted to share telecommunications apparatus as of right (again irrespective of any restrictions in any letting agreement);
- Leases will be capable of being assigned without the consent of landowners;
- Vegetation interfering with the apparatus may be cut back; and
- The basis of valuations under the code is to alter and the use of the land for a communications mast is to be disregarded. That may well have an adverse effect on rental levels.
Significantly, parties to telecommunications agreements cannot opt out of the Code. It will apply irrespective of what the parties stipulate in any relevant agreement.
As with the previous regime, telecommunications operators will be entitled to keep their own equipment in place after the expiry of any written agreement.
Code of Practice by Ofcom
A Code of Practice is to be produced by Ofcom which it is hoped will provide a framework which balances the interest of landowners and telecommunications operators.
Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
The Code makes it clear that the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 will not apply to new leases of telecommunications apparatus and that clarity is to be welcomed. In a number of other respects, however, any landowners contemplating allowing telecommunications operators to install apparatus to which the Code applies will be advised to carefully consider the implications of doing so.
If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this Blog, please contact me.