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Our key takeaways from Connected Britain and George’s webinar!

As another Connected Britain event drew to a close in late September – this time virtually – we have been reflecting on this amazing conference, which saw our very own Georgina Rudak facilitating one of the sessions.

Welcoming 150 people to the Connected Britain webinar, Trenches Law’s Head of Wayleave hosted her crucial discussion on: ‘Developing a wayleave process for a full fibre Britain’.

Debating whether the UK can deliver a more efficient approval system, and what role the Government plays throughout, George was joined by:

  • Paul Lennox, director of field operations at CityFibre
  • Daniel Butler, Hyperoptic’s director of policy and regulation
  • Per Schjelderup, senior advisor for IS Tools
  • Davina Fell, Southwark Council’s digital infrastructure programme manager.

As the UK’s leading connectivity event – which covers full fibre and 5G roll-outs – the Connected Britain session was timely and topical following the UK Government’s plans to embark upon a gigabit future by 2025.

Discussing the current full fibre landscape – and where it is going – it was clear that the demand for broadband is increasing by the day. However, there are still improvements to be made to make sure that the wayleave process is smoother and to ensure the efficiency of successful nationwide roll-outs.

For example – whilst each situation, building and piece of land is different – there is a definite call for a standardised wayleave framework – particularly in relation to what is being charged for, given the disparity of the fees currently requested by solicitors and surveyors.

It is also vital that landowners are provided with information concerning completed works, which ultimately provides reassurance as to the quality, and adherence to any – and all – health and safety standards.

The framework should include:

  • Rate cards for fees that could be charged by solicitors and surveyors
  • A way to help accelerate timescales and assure good quality works throughout
  • Flexibility – because every build is different.

As the debate unfolded, the panel underlined how operators and landowners must work collaboratively to ensure a smooth transition towards a swifter, more efficient wayleave process.

The group also highlighted how knowledge is required to be shared. If we learn from one another, that could go a long way to improving wayleaves on a national scale. For example, Southwark Council has created guidelines to provide upfront information to landlords – which explain responsibilities and ensures a smoother operation.

Summing up the next steps, George and her guests said that it is time to reinvest wayleave fees – rather than treating them as a revenue generator. In addition, educating others will prove to be pivotal, especially as many operator guidelines have now been created. And with the introduction of a consultancy approach, this can help to avoid costly and time-consuming complaints in future.

Finally, technology is perfectly placed to speed up the process and make wayleaves less of a bottleneck. This is something we know all about, having recently unveiled an automation project to tackle such critical issues.

We are incredibly proud of George for facilitating such an important discussion and loved ‘attending’ Total Telecom’s Connected Britain 2020.

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