Insights Government publishes response to its consultation on proposed changes to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC)

The Government plans to achieve the nationwide roll out of future-proof, gigabit-capable broadband and 5G networks as soon as possible. It is working to target a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 and to get as close to 100% as possible.

The Government is also aiming to ensure that 95% of the UK’s geographic landmass has 4G coverage from at least one mobile network operator by 2025 and that the majority of the UK population has 5G coverage by 2027.

The ECC regulates the rights of telecommunications operators to install and maintain their apparatus on public and private land. It was last updated and reformed in 2017. The Government says that, while progress was made, stakeholders reported that negotiations did not always progress smoothly, and agreements could take a long time to complete. Accordingly, in January 2031, the Government launched a consultation to explore whether changes to the ECC were required to encourage faster and more collaborative negotiations between landowners and telecoms providers. It also examined whether there were ways that the use of existing infrastructure could be improved.

The consultation sought views on: (i) issues that had arisen relating to obtaining and using ECC agreements; (ii) rights to upgrade and share infrastructure; and (iii) difficulties relating to the renewal of expired agreements. The consultation outlined what the Government believed were the key issues that impact the effectiveness of the ECC and set out a range of suggestions intended to address these problem areas.

The Government has now published its response to the consultation, together with an outline of the key comments from the 1,266 responses received.

The Government has now proposed changes to the ECC through the Products Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (see item above). The Government says that the changes will support the installation, maintenance and upgrading/sharing of apparatus, alongside facilitating faster and more collaborative negotiations between operators and site providers, while balancing the public interest in having improved digital connectivity with private property rights. To access the Government’s response, click here.