Last week on November 23rd, UK telecommunications providers, infrastructure providers and landowners joined together to form the NCA (National Connectivity Alliance). Why? Well. the main aim is to make collaboration easier on mutual areas of interest as well as aid the rollout of new networks.
Let’s think about digital infrastructure for a moment – We’re talking about things like trenches for optical fibre cables and mobile masts. It’s easy to see why landowners and digital infrastructure developers might not be on the same wavelength (if you’ll pardon the pun). Previously, landowners would only allow operators to deploy infrastructure on their land in return for high rental fees. This would in turn have a knock on effect for consumers and telecommunications providers as operators would be unable to increase their coverage due to expensive rental fees.
Back in 2017, the government amended the ECC (Electronic Communications Code) in order to make it more straightforward (and cheaper) for operators to access both public and private land. However, this didn’t have the balancing effect needed and lent instead more in favour of the providers – Some forcing rent of an extremely lower price.
These lower rents didn’t take into account that landowners had multiple considerations to make like:
- Facilitating access
- Ability to repurpose sites for other ventures (or inability to do so once infrastructure had been deployed)
- Impact on insurance of any kit fitted to a roof
- Safety risks for residents near base stations
- Keeping an area used for deployment in good repair
You can see why this could easily end with disputes in court! Of course, the goal for everyone is to successfully roll out broadband and mobile networks, and the upcoming PSTI bill (Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure) plans to make the changes needed to do just this.
It’s clear to see that something like the NCA is necessary to help increase collaboration between both landowners and digital infrastructure developers.
The NCA Chair and Co-Founder is Partner at Blaser Mills Law. Carlos Pierce is thrilled to launch this cross-industry body that will benefit all parties – Including the general public. This new found collective of landowners and digital infrastructure developers will help improve digital connectivity for all. Industry experts bring about best practice, as well as helping landowners to have a deeper understanding of all things digital infrastructure. This combination of education and communication through this NCA collaboration brings an awareness of the needs of all parties in this sector, eventually benefitting the general public.
The Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP, welcomes this new alliance in support of ‘world class connectivity’ for all people across the UK, regardless or whether they live in a city or rural area. Bringing together industry experts and landowners in this way will go a long way in helping negotiations so that all parties are happy. As a result, we can expect this new NCA to boost connectivity, productivity and even the economy.
Image from https://www.ncalliance.org.uk