Over the last few years, we have established ourselves as one of the leading advisors in the telecoms sector by delivering fresh thinking to the market by drawing upon our wider utilities experience across the company. This has proved vital following the introduction of the New Electronic Communications Code in late 2017, in what has unfortunately become quite a polarised marketplace.

We are where we are but it is hugely important that we now look ahead as an industry and find a way forward that delivers on the Government’s ambition to be a world leader in digital infrastructure so all of us, consumers and businesses alike, can enjoy the substantial benefits of improved connectivity in the UK.

I do of course have some sympathy for site providers (SPs) and their agents and the situation many find themselves in. The NECC has had a major impact on the market particularly in relation to site payment levels. We could certainly do with more clarity from the Upper Tribunal but the decisions to date in respect of valuation matters have been broadly supportive of the operator position. However, terms generally being offered to SPs are now above what the Tribunal would ultimately determine representing a genuine attempt by the main players to accelerate progress and to build market consensus.

We are at a point where the Industry needs to come together and find a way forward as better connectivity is essential for the future. This is why the government has put communications infrastructure at the very top of its agenda. If we don’t bring about improvement in this area, we won’t achieve the digital transformation that is necessary to deliver what we all want, better customer experiences, faster speeds, virtual reality, improved connection of devices etc.

It is important to acknowledge that this much needed progress is going to be very expensive as connectivity ultimately needs to be affordable. Hence the change to the ECC and more operator collaboration initiatives such as the Shared Rural Network project to try and tackle poor rural coverage. Fibre is and will continue to play a vital role in improving connectivity in both urban and rural areas.

With goodwill and an appropriate change in mindset we can collectively unlock some really exciting benefits for the UK over the next 5-10 years. These can be felt in all aspects of our everyday lives from healthcare (remote consultations and monitoring devices) to transport (automation, traffic management), energy (electric cars, reduced household bills) and across the business community. The benefits of improved connectivity have been underlined by the impact of COVID-19 and this experience has driven more innovation, smarter ways of working, an increased focus on problem-solving and solution-based advice.

Dalcour Maclaren’s team of Telecoms experts are committed to helping our clients work towards these goals. To find out what we can do for you contact [email protected]

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John Wood FRICS

Telecoms Lead