Clause 71 - Rights of network providers in relation to infrastructure

Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 17 March 2022.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State

Sharing infrastructure in the roll-out of gigabit-capable networks can greatly reduce the cost of deploying networks, increase the pace of roll-out and reduce the frustrating need to dig up streets, preventing unnecessary disruption to the local populations we represent and reducing carbon emissions. The Communications (Access to Infrastructure) Regulations 2016 enable sharing of information about access to physical infrastructure across the utility, transport and communications sectors. They include the right to access that infrastructure on fair and reasonable commercial terms and conditions. The 2016 regulations were implemented in the UK, following the European broadband cost reduction directive, to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks.

We recently published our response to a call for evidence on a review of those regulations. We set out that there may be areas where the 2016 regulations could be made easier to understand and use. We said we would legislate to allow future changes to the 2016 regulations via secondary legislation, rather than having to rely on primary legislation. This legislation would be subject to a further consultation with Ofcom and such other persons the Secretary of State considers appropriate. It would also be scrutinised in the Parliament through the affirmative procedure.

Clause 71 grants the Secretary of State the power to make provisions, through regulations, conferring rights on network providers in relation to infrastructure for the purpose of developing communications networks. These provisions include the power to amend, revoke or replace the 2016 regulations. The clause details the areas in which provisions may be made by the Secretary of State through regulations. These areas include: provisions relating to grants of access to relevant infrastructure; the carrying out of work as specified; procedures and forms of request by network providers for rights conferred by the regulations; and disputes under the regulations.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 71 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.