Broadband: Infrastructure

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 8th June 2020.

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Photo of John Nicolson John Nicolson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the contribution of the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill towards meeting the Government's target of delivering gigabit-capable connectivity for all by 2025.

Photo of John Nicolson John Nicolson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the need to revise legislation in respect of the rights of telecoms operators to build infrastructure on privately owned land in order to meet the Government's target of delivering gigabit-capable connectivity for all by 2025; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Government remains committed to providing gigabit-capable connections to every home and business in the country as soon as possible.

The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill contributes to that commitment. It creates a faster, cheaper process than that which currently exists, so as to allow operators to apply to courts for rights under the Electronic Communications Code (“the Code”) to install infrastructure and provide a connection. It applies only where a landowner (or otherwise ‘required grantor’) is repeatedly unresponsive to an operator’s attempts to agree to those rights for access.

It is also necessary for those attempts to have been prompted in the first place by a request made to the operator by a tenant, for the operator to provide a service.

The Bill applies to multiple dwelling buildings (e.g. blocks of flats) of which there are an estimated 450,000 in the UK and housing around 10 million people. Information provided by the industry indicates that approximately 40% of operators’ notices to the owners of multiple dwelling buildings attempting to agree permission to install infrastructure receive no response. This leaves residents in those properties unlikely to receive faster, more reliable, more resilient broadband. The Bill addresses this issue by providing for a specific process allowing operators to apply for rights under the Code.

As regards any further changes to the legislation regulating operator rights to build infrastructure on privately owned land, my department is working closely with stakeholders to understand whether the existing statutory framework supports delivery of the 2025 targets. This includes assessing whether Government interventions - including possible further legislative reforms - may be of assistance in achieving the 2025 targets.

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