Voluntary Organisations: Telecommunications

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 17th January 2022.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Labour, Leeds Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the impact on the income of (a) sports clubs, (b) community centres and (c) other voluntary organisations of the changes to the Communications Code which enable providers to reduce rental payments to them for equipment on their property.

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

The 2017 reforms to the Electronic Communications Code were intended to make it cheaper and easier for digital communications operators to deploy and maintain their networks. It was the government’s view that the cost of acquiring rights to install digital infrastructure prior to 2017 was too high and needed to be addressed. The pricing regime now in place is more closely aligned to those for utilities such as water and electricity and reflects the fact that access to good quality digital services is an increasingly critical part of daily life for residents across the UK.

Following the introduction of the 2017 reforms, DCMS engaged closely with stakeholders to understand the impact they were having, and a consultation on potential further reform to the Code was published in January 2021. The valuation regime introduced in 2017 was not included in that consultation. The Government continues to believe that framework strikes a fair balance between ensuring individual landowners are not left out of pocket and encouraging the industry investment needed for consumers across the UK to have access to robust digital services.

The response to the government’s consultation was published in November 2021 and the Product Security and Telecoms Infrastructure Bill, bringing forward the measures set out in that response, has been introduced.

We anticipate that the changes being brought forwards through that Bill will lead to better collaboration between site providers and telecoms operators and help mutually acceptable outcomes to be achieved. This will speed up the rollout and upgrading of digital services throughout the UK, providing the public with the digital connectivity they need both now and in the future.

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