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London City Streamlines Wayleave Agreements to Boost Broadband

Monday, October 26th, 2015 (2:11 pm) - Score 1,314

The City of London Corporation has confirmed that they’re on the cusp of reaching a new Wayleave agreement template, which could make it easier, cheaper and quicker for buildings in the city to get faster broadband connections installed.

Wayleaves are legal agreements that effectively grant special access to land or buildings for the deployment and management of new infrastructure, such as running a new fibre optic cable through buildings or installing related Internet infrastructure.

Sadly these agreements are also notoriously complicated and costly to arrange, with each land or building owner typically requiring a separate approach. Once agreed such deals often still have to gain consent from tenants, which takes a lot of time and money to organise (in some cases taking up to 18 months).

One partial solution to this problem would be for property / land owners in the city to adopt a standard wayleave agreement template, which is precisely what the City of London Corporation and the British Standards Institute (BSI) have been busy working on. Now the solution is nearly ready.

Mark Boleat, CLC’s Chairman of Policy and Resources, said (City AM):

For the past few months, the City of London Corporation has been driving a project with London’s main developers, landlords, broadband operators and property managers to produce a wayleave agreement template to resolve delays and speed up the delivery of superfast broadband. To do this, we have been working closely with the British Standards Institution, Central London Forward, and the City of London Law Society to get this template agreed.

A meeting today at the Guildhall, with all stakeholder groups represented – from property developers to surveyors – brings us near to the culmination of this work. And to be honest, this cannot come soon enough.

The template wayleave should be adopted by all parties and it has already gained support from trade associations such as the British Property Federation and the UK Competitive Telecoms Association. It has the potential to reach out across the telecoms and property industries.”

The development, which could conceivably be replicated in other UK cities, also has the support of the Government and it’s hoped that a final agreement could be reached in December 2015. Mind you the template would be somewhat voluntary and so probably isn’t likely to end up being used by everyone.

Wayleaves alone are also only part of the problem, not least in respect to those locations that suffer from a lack of access to affordable superfast broadband connections for homes and small businesses (yes even London has such problems).

The recent suspension of the Government’s Connection Voucher scheme certainly hasn’t helped matters (here) and thus the City of London Corporation are now calling for more effort to tackle this issue too. However that will be difficult because EU State Aid rules put the brakes on public subsidies in urban areas, where private sector ISPs have fewer reasons for not investing.

At least there is some good news on this front, with Virgin Media’s cable network expansion being set to reach another 4 million UK urban premises by 2020 (here) and BT also expanding the reach of their “fibre broadband” (FTTC/rN/B) network to another 400,000 or so premises around London (here).

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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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