UK Announces New Telecom Regulatory Legal Guidelines

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The U.K. recently unveiled new legal guidelines aimed to expand U.K.-wide mobile coverage while also protecting consumer rights. Member states and the U.K. have until December 21, 2020, to implement the provisions under the Electronic Communications Code (EECC) into domestic law.

According to Telecompaper, the Code largely consists of minor changes to the existing legal framework, some new pro-investment measures, and will ensure The Office of Communications (Ofcom) regulatory powers are up to date. Ofcom is the equivalent of the FCC in the United Kingdom. 

Under the law, Ofcom will be the governing body for providing information to the government about where broadband companies plan to deploy gigabit-capable networks and to publish data about areas where there are currently no plans for gigabit broadband networks. This new process of information sharing gives government the vision it needs to decide where to target GBP 5 billion of funding.  

The core objectives of the code are to:

  • drive investment in high capacity networks and services through sustainable competition
  • support efficient and effective use of radio spectrum frequencies
  • maintain the security of networks and services, and
  • provide an improved level of protections for consumers.

Adding to provisions under the Code, U.K. reform planning laws will target accelerating the roll-out of 5G by streamlining processes for the mobile industry to upgrade and share cell towers. Telecompaper reported the reforms will also “allow new masts to be built taller (subject to approval by planning authorities); upgrades to existing towers without prior approval; building-based cell sites to be placed closer to highways to support better mobile coverage of the U.K. road network; and cabinets containing radio equipment to be deployed alongside towers to support new 5G networks.” 

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