The UK Government has unveiled new rules which will allow telcos to speed-up the process of dealing with non-responsive landlords.
One of the challenges being faced by telcos in upgrading broadband across the country is gaining access to the right properties and land. Multi-dwelling units seem to be the biggest challenge, as some property owners are less than helpful when granting access. The new rules will speed up the process of seeking access through the courts for telcos.
“We’re pushing ahead with delivering the digital infrastructure that will underpin the UK’s future growth and boost our productivity,” said Digital Minister Nicky Morgan.
“We’ve just announced £5 billion so that people in rural communities will get gigabit speed internet at the same time as everyone else. And we’re now making sure people living in blocks of flats and apartments are not left behind either and can reap the huge benefits of the fastest and most resilient internet connections.”
Telcos claim that 40% of requests to enter a property are left unanswered by the landlords, and while we suspect this number has been inflated for the purpose of the lobbyists, access to multi-dwelling units is a persistent complaint.
“This new law is something Virgin Media has long called for – it breaks through a major broadband barrier as we invest to bring gigabit speeds to our entire, ever-growing network,” said Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media. “Giving broadband builders clear and efficient access rights will mean the many forgotten flats across the country can get the next-eneration connectivity they deserve.”
Under the current rules, telcos can petition the courts for access to properties should the landlord be unresponsive, though this process can take up-to six months and cost as much as £14,000. The new rules offer a streamlined service, reducing the action time to 6-7 weeks, and the cost to £300 per case.
Although this is only addressing a single challenge in the digital economy, it is one of the issues which has been highlighted in recent months by the telcos. Should these companies have any chance of meeting the Government’s exceptionally aggressive full-fibre deployment objectives, there are a lot of regulatory barriers which will have been be broken down. This is one, demonstrating the Government is perhaps listening to the appeals of industry.