In the dynamic realm of telecommunications law, a pivotal shift is on the horizon with the impending enforcement of section 68 of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022 (PSTIA 2022) on 7 November 2023. This amendment, specifically targeting paragraph 35 of the Electronic Communications Code 2017, brings forth a new wave of implications for phone mast landlords across the UK.
Understanding Section 68
At the heart of the matter, section 68 of PSTIA 2022 allows parties to apply for a Code rent to be payable from the moment an application is made for the termination, amendment, or renewal of a telecoms agreement. This change grants telecoms operators a distinct advantage by potentially lowering their rent right from the outset of the application process.
Impact on Rental Levels
The Electronic Communications Code’s “no-network assumption” alters the traditional dynamics of rent determination, removing the influence of supply and demand. Consequently, statutory valuation mechanisms have significantly reduced rents from pre-Code levels, reshaping the landscape of negotiations between operators and landlords.
Operators’ Strategic Advantage
With the ability to apply for a new rent from the date of their original application, operators gain a strategic edge. This newfound advantage is particularly significant given the extended duration of proceedings, lasting between six and eighteen months. Operators can now secure a lower rent from the initiation of the reference, altering the negotiation dynamics in their favour.
In response to these changes, operators may choose to expedite proceedings, apply for interim rent orders to reduce costs, or leverage the ability to claim interim rent as a negotiation tool. Conversely, site providers may strategise by delaying proceedings to benefit from higher rents until the last possible moment or concluding proceedings swiftly to minimise costs.
Navigating the Digital Economy Landscape
The modifications introduced by section 68 align with the government’s commitment to fostering the growth of the digital economy, emphasising the need for efficient infrastructure and the widespread adoption of high capacity 5G networks.
Consider Exploring Options
Given the evolving legal landscape, phone mast landlords may also want to explore alternative options. Selling your phone mast to an investor for a premium payment can potentially alleviate the burden of dealing with operators going forward, ensuring a mutually beneficial arrangement.
As section 68 of PSTIA 2022 comes into force, the dynamics between operators and phone mast landlords undergo a transformative shift. Navigating these changes requires a degree of understanding of your rights and the evolving legal landscape. The Phone Mast Advice Company remains committed to assisting landlords in making informed decisions amidst this evolving telecommunications terrain.