What is the Electronic Communications Code (ECC)?
The Electronic Communications Code legislation was initially introduced in 1984 as part of the Telecommunications Act 1984. Following a revision under the Communications Act 2003, it was updated in December 2017 in Schedule 1 of the Digital Economy Act 2017.
Why was it updated?
With the growing demand for mobile services, the Government recognised that the old Code was complex and not supporting the fast-paced technology that is required to maintain digital services throughout the UK. The ECC was therefore updated to make it easier to roll-out mobile infrastructure at a lower cost to improve the UK’s digital connectivity.
What are the main changes?
Site payments: One of the key changes is the way land rent is now calculated. This is now based on the model used for other utilities markets. Historically, payments would be based on the value of a site to the mobile operator. Now, the payment will be based on the market value of the underlying land (or rooftop), excluding the value to the mobile operator. The value of the property will be based on the valuation principles contained in the ECC.
“Through lowering the cost of infrastructure deployment and incentivising investment the reform of the valuation should lead to improved connectivity and wider economic benefits” DCMS Impact Assessment 2016
“In this respect, communications providers in both fixed and mobile markets will have similar rights to utilities companies, reducing their rental expenditure and creating greater incentives for investment, including areas where costs have previously been prohibitive.” DCMS 2016 paper – A New Electronic Communications Code
Upgrade/Sharing equipment: An operator may upgrade or share the electronic communications apparatus with another operator without the landowner’s consent.
“New rights to upgrade and share will allow future generations of technology to be quickly rolled out as they become commercially viable” DCMS 2016 paper
Termination: Code agreements continue until terminated. However, a landowner bound by a new Code agreement will now need to serve a minimum of 18 months’ notice to terminate a Code agreement.
What is compensation and consideration?
Compensation: If there are any losses that a landowner incurs from the installation of mobile infrastructure, they may be entitled to compensation.
Consideration: A consideration payment is when an operator pays the landowner site rent, based on what the market value of the land is to the landowner, as opposed to the telecom’s operator.
What is the Ofcom Code of Practice?
The Government is very keen for all stakeholder groups, site providers and operators to work together, and through Ofcom, has published a Code of Practice which outlines best practice to facilitate positive and productive engagement between landowners and operators. Download the Ofcom Code of Practice.