Fibre is integral to the UK’s connectivity goals and the government has pledged to have ‘full fibre’ in place throughout the UK by 2033. Fibre providers such as Openreach, Virgin Media, Vodafone and CityFibre need agreements in place with land and building owners which provide them with rights of access to install and maintain their networks on privately owned land. These agreements are called wayleave agreements and have the full protection of the Electronic Communications Code as found in the Communications Act 2003 (amended by the Digital Economy Act 2017).
It is important that the content of the wayleave agreement is carefully considered so that a land and building owner’s interests are protected as far as possible. The Electronic Communications Code provides a fibre provider with a right to keep its apparatus installed in the prior approved location until directed to remove it via the order of a court. The land or building owner must also provide considerable notice and prove a statutory ground before a case can be accepted by a court. This all takes time and money. A carefully considered and drafted wayleave agreement can mitigate the onerous processes that land and building owners must now follow by including contractual commitments between the parties that will allow for apparatus to be relocated to allow for repairs and development in a sympathetic manner that retains the provider’s connectivity to its customers.
Cell:cm provides a full wayleave management service. Our dedicated team can help identify whether a wayleave agreement is required and then negotiate the terms of that agreement on behalf of our clients working with their legal team if required. We will review the proposed route of the fibre circuit and request any necessary changes so that it is located in a manner which causes the least possible disruption to our clients’ businesses and those of its tenants.
Most importantly, wayleave applications can take a several months to complete if not properly managed. As part of our service, we drive forward the application with the various stakeholders to ensure legal completion at the earliest opportunity. Typically, this looks like a few weeks rather than months.