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Digital transformation

Digital transformation in the UK is currently a hot topic, whether it’s 5G, demands for data or key changes to legislation that govern both the telecommunications sector and the UK as a whole. If we are to successfully navigate whatever new world we find ourselves in, partnership is what needs to bring us together.

DIGITAL ECONOMY ACT 2017.

Across the UK the requirement to have good mobile network connectivity is greater than ever. In order to meet the increasing growth in demand on the mobile networks, operators must increase the number of mobile phone masts. The Government has recognised this, and, as part of their intention to make the UK a world leader in the digital economy has introduced reforms to the Digital Economy Act to make deployment of masts cheaper and easier. This change became effective in December 2017 and has seen the telecommunications industry moving to a “no scheme” system.

In this arrangement payments to a landowner for masts on their land are no longer assessed by the value to the operator but are based on the value of the land.

This demonstrates the recognition from the Government that connectivity has changed from a luxury for a few to an essential requirement for all.

It is important you understand why these changes have been made and what they mean to you. To that end, if your lease is up for renewal our agents will be in contact with you and will be able to walk you through the revised process and the changes introduced by the legislation.

Should they get in contact with you it is important that we aim to have a positive and productive engagement as we work through the new legislation together.

Delivering connectivity and value through partnership

by Derek McManus, Telefónica UK Chief Operating Officer

Whatever the outcome of the Brexit process, there is broad agreement that an essential part of the UK’s response to Brexit must be to grasp every opportunity to promote productivity and growth at this time of challenge for the economy. 5G technology is such an opportunity.

Last year Development Economics concluded that 5G will contribute an additional £7bn to the UK economy by 2026, when mobile connectivity is expected to overtake fixed connectivity in its value to the economy. There will be no turning back from that ‘tipping point’.

In March this year Juniper Research unpacked the practical impact of 5G on our daily lives in a report that identified annual savings of £450 for households and £2.8bn for councils.

5G telehealth services could free up 1.1m GP hours, reduce hospital re-admissions by 30% and decrease bed occupancy in the NHS; 5G enabled rail and road maintenance will reduce train delays and traffic jams.

Improved connectivity, new consumer devices and services; new Internet of Things (IoT) solutions; and smarter infrastructure and public services are four 5G benefits identified in a June 2018 report for government from Deloitte, which concluded that “the capabilities of 5G have the potential to deliver transformative impacts for key sectors of the UK economy.”

The debate now needs to focus on how best the additional infrastructure required to deliver it – macro-cells, micro-cells, power and enhanced backhaul – can be put in place in a cost effective and beneficial way for businesses and the communities where they live and work.

In December 2017 a new Electronic Communications Code took effect with the aim of making it easier for network operators to install and maintain phone masts, exchanges and cabinets on public and private land. I know that its implementation has brought challenges to landowners and operators, but I also know that the Code has been implemented in a sufficient number of cases to give us hope that we can all learn from those cases and replicate that spirit of constructive collaboration for those sites where progress has proved more difficult.

With mobile data consumption increasing by 60% per annum – and much more in some areas – commercial and residential properties that are unable to meet this growing demand will not command the value that high quality mobile connectivity would help deliver.

In August UK house prices had their biggest monthly fall in six years, while RICS’ latest market survey indicated a slowdown in the commercial property market. Ultimately, the industry’s ability to provide infrastructure that delivers better coverage is not just in the hands of operators but also planning authorities and landowners. If required planning permission is refused or landowners decide they want no such infrastructure on their properties, we comply with those decisions.

A consequence of this, however, is that the value and attractiveness of an area for businesses and consumers alike is diminished because they are deprived of the enhanced coverage that operators want to deliver and they want to receive.

So, in summary, delivering strong connectivity can help sustain property value in the residential and commercial property markets alike and be a magnet for investment and growth.

But this won’t just happen. We need to work with you in a more collaborative manner to secure this positive outcome for local businesses and residents, as providing enhanced connectivity is mutually beneficial to both operators and landlords.

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