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A snapshot of 2023 telecoms industry updates to-date

From transatlantic insights to local initiatives, join us as we break down the developments that have made waves throughout the telecoms arena in the first half (and a bit!) of 2023.

Navigating the intricate realm of telecoms can be a challenge — not least because of the current pace of change we’re experiencing. Luckily for our network, the team at Trenches Law hasn’t just been busy supporting clients with their wayleave applications and general legal requirements. We’ve also been keeping our finger on the industry’s pulse, sifting through the latest news, regulations, and opinion pieces shaping the future of connectivity, to offer you a straight-talking roundup of what matters most. So without further ado, let’s dive in…

Inaugural Connected America event paves the way for transatlantic progress

March saw Total Telecom’s industry-leading connectivity event go global. Touching down in Dallas with thousands of thought leaders spanning both public and private sectors, the event shone a light on the technology, regulation, and investment environment underpinning America’s telecoms infrastructure.

Having attended the inaugural state-side expo, co-founders Sharon McDermott and Terry Daniell learnt of the stark reality that US full-fibre progress is lagging behind the UK by some six years, possibly more. Leveraging this experience, we’re exporting our expertise to overseas networks, aiming to bridge this digital gap and foster global connectivity.

National Parks Accord: A Landmark for connectivity and preservation

We were proud to play a pivotal role in the creation of the ‘National Parks Accord’ — a standardised framework facilitating the delivery of next-generation broadband across England’s National Parks. This critical step supports enhanced rural connectivity, while safeguarding the natural beauty of these preservation areas. Trenches’ commitment to digital inclusion ensures that even the most picturesque landscapes are not left behind in the digital revolution.

You can read more about the milestone collaboration with Building Digital UK, National Parks England and Openreach, here.

Updates to the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Act 

With the passing of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act, further updates were made to the regulation earlier this year, set to impact telecoms operators, landlords and occupiers. Notably, changes to the associated Electronic Communications Code (ECC) bring newfound rights, streamlined procedures, and increased collaboration.

As the industry’s leading telecoms law provider, we embrace our duty to provide clarity in an ever-evolving regulatory landscape. For those who are still unfamiliar with the landmark developments fostering step change, you can catch more in our break-down, here.

Digital Exclusion Report advocates for inclusive connectivity

The House of Lords and Digital Committee’s Digital Exclusion report recently underscored the imperative of a renewed digital inclusion strategy. The report champions urgent actions, investment in basic skills, and enhanced support for community-based digital hubs. By emphasising accessibility and representation, the update aligns with efforts to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital age.

The Government is yet to announce a credible strategy to combat claims of ‘political lethargy’ in tackling digital exclusion, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled and hope to share an official update in due course.

Fibre connections catalyse the UK’s digital evolution

Delving into Ofcom’s reports on the surge in fibre-to-the-cabinet and full fibre connections, we were pleased to read that there were 20 million ‘other inc. FTTx’ broadband connections (predominantly fibre-to-the cabinet and full fibre connections) at the end of Q1 2023, accounting for 71.1% of all lines. This is a small leap from Q2 2023, which detailed 19.3 million connections, accounting for 69.2% of all lines.

Only time will tell if the sector will meet 2030 government targets. But if there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that collaboration will be key to accelerating the pace of full fibre deployments — including obtaining wayleave agreements at the earliest possible stage, and maintaining transparent communication with all stakeholders from start to finish. Need support laying the groundwork? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Plans to enhance electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure

Tech Minister Sir John Whittingdale recently announced plans to enhance charging infrastructure through smart lampposts, marking a significant stride towards a greener future. Unpacking the Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme — a joint venture between DSIT and the Department for Transport (DfT) — it seems local authorities will receive support in deploying innovative multi-purpose columns that are capable of delivering a range of services, from public wifi to EV charging.

Trenches is here to help illuminate the legal aspects of the initiative for our customers, and make the road to enhanced connectivity and sustainability as clear and headache-free as possible.

PSTI access to land consultation calls for support in balancing regulatory structure 

While funding and investment plays a significant role in progressing progress in the telecoms space, it won’t solely help deliver on ambitious government targets. With uncooperative occupiers and landlords hindering operators’ progress when it comes to gaining the right to access land to install equipment — particularly in rural areas — legislation is vital too.

That’s why the passing of section 67 of the PSTI Act should be very welcomed news for the sector. Section 67 of the act creates a new route through the courts that operators can use to obtain code rights in relation to certain types of land if a landowner is repeatedly unresponsive to requests for such rights.

To further ensure this balance between public benefits and the rights of individual landowners is maintained, the government’s current consultation — closing on 4th September — seeks to develop a balanced regulatory structure to sit alongside section 67 of the act. 

Navigating security and resilience within the private telecoms networks

Also set to close in September, on the 13th, the government has called for information on private telecoms networks, to help better understand how dependent critical sectors are on private telecoms networks, and determine if any intervention is required to promote security and resilience.

While all responses are encouraged, officials are particularly keen to hear from telecoms providers, businesses that currently procure, or are planning to procure, and use private telecoms networks, and consultants, contractors, or academics involved in the industry.

Discover how you can contribute to the future of network security, here.


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