Last December we looked at the new edition of the Telecoms Code which we expected to come into force around Christmas: see The new Telecoms Code – is it an upgrade?
At the time we went to press, the exact date had not yet been confirmed. We now have a commencement date: 28 December 2017.
What the Telecoms Code does
The code's formal title is the Electronic Communications Code. It provides a statutory framework for the relationship between landowners, building occupiers and telecoms providers. It is not possible to contract out of the code.
Where a site owner gives an operator rights to install apparatus, the code adds compulsory terms to their agreement. The code also allows operators to insist on being granted access rights to install their kit, even if the site owner is unwilling. And, when a site owner wishes to end these rights, the code sets a minimum notice period and, in many cases, gives the operator a legal right to remain.
A quick reminder of the key changes that have now come into effect:
Under the new code, the landowner must give the operator 18 months' notice, much longer than the 28 days previously required. This new period will broadly apply to existing telecoms agreements, as well as new ones, but with some exceptions.
Depending on the circumstances, the court may order apparatus to remain, or to be removed.
If the court imposes a telecoms agreement on a landowner, it will (as before) order the operator to pay for this. But the new basis for calculating the compensation is expected to produce lower valuations than under the old code.
Sharing and upgrading allowed
An operator will automatically be able to share or upgrade its equipment without the landowner's consent and without any additional payment, subject to certain conditions. This applies only to new agreements entered into on or after 28 December 2017.
Assignment without consent
An operator will be able to assign an agreement covered by the new code to another licensed telecoms operator, without the landowner's consent. This change also applies only to post-28 December 2017 agreements. The agreement can stipulate that the assignor must guarantee performance by the assignee.
Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 overlap removed
Under the new code, any tenancy which has as its main purpose the provision of electronic communications services will be automatically excluded from the security of tenure provisions of the 1954 Act.
For more details and our comments on how the code may work in practice, please see our earlier article.