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Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill completes passage through Parliament

5 March 2021


The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill returned to the Lords for consideration of Commons amendments in ‘ping pong’, on Thursday 4 March.

Members discussed the definition of leases and impact on the Electronic Communications Code.

As both Houses have agreed on the text of the bill it now awaits the final stage of Royal Assent. It will then become an Act of Parliament (law).

A date for Royal Assent is yet to be scheduled.

Third reading: Thursday 28 January

Members discussed a range of topics, including preventing companies from using telecommunications infrastructure to facilitate human rights abuse and uncompetitive behaviour.

Members also discussed the progress of the bill through the House at its conclusion of Lords stages.

Report stage: Monday 29 June

Members discussed a range of topics and proposed changes to the bill and asked the government to think again on the inclusion of tenanted premises under the bill's provisions and the bill's impact on Electronic Communications Code.

There were two divisions (votes) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.

Tenant-only properties

Members considered a change (amendment 1) to ensure that premises exclusively occupied by tenants premises are included under the provisions of this bill.

294 members were in favour of this amendment, with 234 against, and so the change was made.

Goverment review

A second vote was held on a change (amendment 7) which requires the government to commission a review of the impact of the bill on the Electronic Communications Code. This review, which would assess the code's suitability to support universal access to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, could make recommendations for future amendments to the code.

279 members were in favour of this amendment, with 277 against, and so the change was made.

Lords committee stage: Tuesday 2 June

Members discussed proposed changes to the bill regarding obtaining 1 gigabit per second broadband for all premises in the UK by 2025 and the type of damages for which compensation will be paid.

Lords committee stage day one: Tuesday 19 May

Members discussed a range of topics and proposed changes to the bill, including the inclusion of rental properties, new builds, office buildings and retirement homes under the new law. The average download speed provided by service operators and preventing customers being locked into service agreements beyond the term of their initial contract was also discussed.

Day two of committee stage is scheduled for 2 June.

Lords second reading: Wednesday 22 April

Members discussed a range of topics highlighted by the bill, including:

  • a streamlined courts process for telecoms operators wishing to gain access to a dwelling
  • the importance of broadband connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • the target set in the Communications Act 2003 for 100% broadband coverage by 2020
  • the proportion of technology provided by 'high-risk' vendors.

Baroness Barran (party), Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, opened the debate on the bill and responded on behalf of the government.

Bill summary

This bill is concerned with cases wherein a leaseholder in a multiple dwelling building has requested an electronic communication service, but the individual able to confer or be bound by rights under the Electronic Communications Code has repeatedly failed to respond to a telecom network operator's requests for access.

The bill will amend the Code by providing a bespoke process for operators to gain access to such dwellings in order to deploy, upgrade or maintain fixed-line broadband connections.

Further information

Image: Creative Commons