New legislation on the way to make getting Gigabit into apartments easier
The consultation on how access could be improved for communicaton providers to deliver full fibre and Gigabit connectivity to people living and working in apartments, where the landlord is not responding to requests for access started in October 2018 but we now what the solution will be.
The Government therefore intends to amend the Code to provide operators with a fast, cheap, light-touch application process to obtain interim rights from the Tribunal where:
- a tenant within the property is requesting a communications service;
- the operator is unable to fulfil the tenant’s service request without the landlord conferring Code rights and has sought those rights from the landlord; and
- a landlord has repeatedly failed to respond to formal notices seeking those rights given by the operator.
The changes will need to go through Parliament and thus requires time in the House of Commons so that the Electronics Communications Code can be updated, but the scenario where residents want something a lot better than the original copper wiring installed but the landlord is absent in terms of responding to wayleaves may be less of a bad headline. The changes proposed don't remove delays totally, but give a way of breaking out of the loop that currently means the only way to improve connectivity is to move home.
To be clear this does not give communication providers the powers to just enter a property, the usual back and forth to attempt to get a response to a wayleave request still applies. The provider still needs to go to a tribunal to gain access but the costs of doing so have been substantionally reduced, so now where as providers would usually just give up the new situation is hopefully that more will go down the tribunal route and while there will be delays people will still get the full fibre or Gigabit service. The access powers granted will have a time limit to them, likely to be 18 months and landlords if they do appear can appeal via the tribunal.
The new legislation will not remove the ability for a landlord to actively refuse access, though doing so is going to increasingly make sale and rental of appartments increasingly difficult so a landlord refusing access will impact on their income eventually. The Electronics Communications Code does have provisions for this scenario but this where things can get costly in terms of time and legal costs.
Will these changes mean millions living in apartments will suddenly see full fibre or other Gigabit solutions arrive? We think this is unlikely, but it does mean that as urban areas see widespread builds that fewer apartment blocks will be missed out and reduced timescales should mean the build will take place before teams have left and moved to another part of the UK.