Insights Government publishes consultation on changes to Electronic Communications Code


The Electronic Communications Code regulates the rights of telecommunications operators to install and maintain their apparatus on public and private land. The consultation will review the legal framework for building and maintaining these structures on private and public land.

The Government says that while progress has been made since the Code was reformed in 2017, stakeholders have reported that negotiations do not always progress smoothly and agreements can take a long time to complete. This is holding back homes and businesses from accessing better mobile coverage and much faster gigabit broadband. The consultation will explore whether changes to the Code are required to encourage faster and more collaborative negotiations between landowners and telecoms providers. It will also examine whether there are ways that the use of existing infrastructure can be improved.

The consultation seeks views on: (i) issues that have arisen relating to obtaining and using Code agreements; (ii) rights to upgrade and share infrastructure; and (iii) difficulties relating to the renewal of expired agreements. Views are also being sought on whether greater certainty is needed for operators and landowners about what will happen when their land agreements come to an end and how they can be renewed.

The consultation proposes reviewing automatic rights which can be used when a phone mast needs to be upgraded from 4G to 5G or shared among operators to remove coverage blackspots, to make clear when these rights should be available.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 24 March 2021. To read the Government’s press release in full, click here. To access the consultation, click here.