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CLA Opposes Cheaper Rates for Mobile Broadband Masts in UK Rural Areas

Friday, October 26th, 2012 (2:53 pm) - Score 1,139

The Country Land and Business Association(CLA), which represents English and Welsh land owners and repeatedly calls for improvements to UK rural broadband coverage, has opposed a reform of the Electronic Communication Code (ECC) that could make it cheaper for Mobile Broadband operators to expand their availability.

Ofcom states that the ECC enables telecoms firms, such as Mobile Network Operators, to build their networks (e.g. masts) on public land (streets) or to take rights over private land (usually via agreement with the landowner or via the county court etc.).

But crucially the Law Commission (LC) has recently proposed a series of changes to the ECC, which could result in rental payments for mast sites being slashed from “several thousand pounds a year, to the level of payment paid for a National Grid pylon” (i.e. currently between £87 and £147 a year).

Harry Cotterell, CLA President, said:

The suggestion that payments should be based on compulsory purchase principles – rather than on a freely negotiated market value basis – is deeply concerning for CLA members. The CLA is wholly opposed to this suggestion.

Mobile operators are companies run for profit and as such should pay the market price. They choose sites which will be economically viable based on demand.”

In theory the lower costs could make expanding mobile coverage into rural areas more economically viable and thus attractive, which would support the government’s new Mobile Broadband coverage target (i.e. at least 98% of the United Kingdom by the end of 2017).

Meanwhile Cotterell remains adamant that the current “market value approach” has worked for the majority of cases and hasn’t “stopped the roll-out of both mobile and landline telecommunications to the vast majority of the population“. Instead he argues that, “If there is no incentive to host apparatus, landowners will not want to host masts on their land.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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