Changes to the Electronic Communications Code
Changes to the code
The Electronic Communications Code regulates the rights of telecommunications operators to install and maintain apparatus on public and private land.
The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022 introduces several changes to the code, including:
- the introduction of a "sharing" right into the general menu of code rights, together with related code rights (section 57)
- a new power to fly lines from apparatus, including poles, and related rights to upgrade or share such apparatus (section 60)
- the meaning of the code for the purposes of the legislation (section 75)
- rights to upgrade and share apparatus underground (section 58 and section 59)
Sections 57, 60 and 75 came into force on 7 February 2023.
Sections 58 and 59 will come into force with effect from 17 April 2023.
In January 2021, the government consulted on three problem areas it had identified with the existing code:
- obtaining and using code agreements
- rights to upgrade and share
- renewal of expired agreements
The government proposed changes to the code with the aim of:
- improving litigation procedures
- supporting the installation, maintenance and upgrading/sharing of apparatus
- 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
In April 2021, we responded to the consultation with the City of London Law Society.
We welcomed the code review but were concerned that the government's changes focus more on treating systems rather than tackling the root causes.
We recognise the appropriateness of faster and more effective dispute resolution procedures. However, this does not address the causes giving rise to the prevalence of disputes.
In our view, the code formulae interfere too much with market forces.
Involvement of dispute resolution procedures and adjustment of some code provisions only provides part of the answer.
April 2023 – sections 58 and 59 of the Product Security and Telecommunications Act 2022 come into force on 17 April
February 2023 – sections 57, 60 and 75 of the act came into force on 7 February
December 2022 – the act received royal assent on 6 December
November 2021 – the government analysed 1,266 responses to the consultation
April 2021 – we responded to the government's consultation
January 2021 – the government launched its consultation on the code changes