UK: Be Sure Of Your Connections

Last Updated: 7 April 2016
Article by Helen Garthwaite and Claire Haynes

Helen Garthwaite and Claire Haynes consider broadband challenges for the next generation of buildings. This article was first published in RICS Construction Journal for April-May 2016.

When carrying out a construction or refurbishment project, the property industry now recognises the importance of considering broadband connectivity at the outset. Marketability, value and rental income are likely to decline for both residential and commercial buildings if there is limited connectivity. This is a concern both for landlords and for occupiers who need premises that can be used by businesses. Funders are sinking debt into buildings so capital value and rental income must be protected to ensure a return on investment; meanwhile, developers must provide buildings that are fit for purpose and comply with all requisite standards. Modern and flexible electronic communications cabling and infrastructure is thus needed to meet the long-term needs of building owners and users.

Legislative framework

It is widely acknowledged that the Electronic Communications Code (the code) needs a substantial overhaul. It is struggling to support the efficient roll-out of superfast broadband infrastructure and the sophisticated relationship between electronic communications network operators and site providers.

The coalition government took initial steps to reform the code by launching a consultation, a response to which is awaited. There was further good news in July 2015 when the government published its productivity plan, Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation (http://bit.ly/1eM0SUd), in which it commits to:

  • Introduce legislation to reform the code during the first session of this parliament
  • Roll out superfast broadband of at least 24 Mbps to 95% of UK households and businesses by 2017 in line with the  European Commission's Digital Agenda, which sets targets for broadband speeds and coverage.

The EU Broadband Cost Reduction Directive

Directive 2014/61/EU sets out measures to enable and reduce the costs of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks, as well as to improve buildings' internal infrastructure. Legislation implementing the directive's measures must be in place this year, and at the end of November 2015, the government issued two separate consultations: the first on implementation, and the second specifically addressing use of Building Regulations to include minimum requirements for the internal broadband infrastructure of buildings.

Where building permits are submitted after 31 December 2016, the directive provides for all new buildings or those subject to major renovation to be equipped with infrastructure that allows users to connect to high-speed electronic communications networks.

New multi-occupancy buildings or those subject to major works are to be equipped with an access point, by which a telecommunications provider may access the building's internal infrastructure. Developers are asked to ensure that empty ducts are provided to the access point for every occupier; the costs of installing high-speed infrastructure and ducting are incrementally lower during construction than retrofitting.

The directive permits EU member states to develop a voluntary 'broadband-ready' label to promote the high-speed readiness of buildings, which has considerable cost-saving potential for owners and occupiers. The label can be given both to buildings equipped with infrastructure and access points complying with the directive's standards.

After implementation in the UK, we anticipate that the standards for compliance with the label will be set out in construction documentation. In time, they will become a warranted standard on completion of construction projects. It will be interesting to see how this situation develops, and whether different standards are adopted for buildings with varying user needs.

The code

Overall, the new draft code probably favours network operators; however, there are benefits for landowners.

  • Under the existing code, problems can arise if a landowner requires removal of equipment and the operator does not cooperate. The new draft code gives landowners termination rights in circumstances that include redevelopment, and shifts the onus to the operator to serve a counter-notice, and to commence court proceedings within a fixed timeframe where removal of equipment is contested.
  • There is currently a lack of clarity as to the protection operators acquire by way of code rights and, for commercial premises, security of tenure under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Under the new draft code, the 1954 act does not apply to a tenancy where the primary purpose is to grant code rights or vice versa. This should also make it easier for landowners and developers to procure removal of equipment for redevelopment.
  • It allows assignment of code rights by site operators, which could help occupiers who wish to change their broadband supplier.

Crucially, the code increases the opportunities for operators to share and upgrade equipment without seeking landlord consent. Landowners will need to document the nature of rights granted in licences and wayleaves carefully if they wish to control who can operate at their premises, because the code favours operators in this respect.

Considerations for developers

Currently, the issue of electronic communications infrastructure is not always considered at heads of terms stage of a construction or refurbishment project. We expect this to change as the market responds to consumer demand and the new legislation takes effect.

Technological infrastructure should be considered at the outset of a construction project to ensure that the legal documents dovetail. The draft code offers increased opportunities for operators to share equipment, and legislation transposing the EU directive will further enhance the position of operators.

As a result, it will become essential for landlords to have a strategy relating to communications, especially for multi-occupancy buildings, and owners will need to ensure that they do not grant generic rights to install electronic communications ducting and equipment, because these will be exercised by tenants and operators. Care must be taken in licences and wayleave documentation to locate equipment in specific areas – for instance, in a plant room identified on a plan – as imprecise wording may allow the apparatus to be moved to an undesirable location.

We are seeing changes in specification requirements for buildings, driven by the need to avoid high retrofitting costs, disruption, impacts on sustainability and a limited choice of network supplier. There are distinctions between residential and office space, and increasingly technology-orientated businesses will have specificc requirements. Occupiers need more equipment, so developers and landlords must increase cable and plant areas while maintaining as much useable space as possible; they should consider designating space to enable the installation of further equipment in future.

Previously published in RICS Construction Journal

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions