Telecoms and rural property owners


The advent of the 4G telecoms network, which promises significantly faster wireless broadband services than the current 3G network, is great news for those living in the most rural parts of the South West. Marcus Thorpe, Head of Agriculture and Rural Property at Trethowans LLP, explains why.

When will the UK licence 4G technology?

Everything Everywhere ('EE') is the UK's largest network operator. The telecoms regulator Ofcom has approved EE's request to use its exisiting spectrum to provide next generation 4G services.

Ofcom has acknolwedge that although this decision pre-empts the auction for a suitable spectrum, which was due to take place before the end of 2012, the benefits to consumers outweigh the distortion of competition. Accordingly, it is likely that EE will be the only entity capable of providing 4G services in the UK for some time.

What does it mean for landowners and those living in rural areas?

There is no doubt that rural areas with limited or no broadband service could benefit significantly from 4G technology as it would allow greater access to the internet whether at home or on the go, without the need fo a physical internet connection.

This could provide opportunities for rural businesses to develop where previously progress was limited due to poor internet connection, improving both the social and economic outlook in those areas. Landowners could also benefit where there is a need for new mast sites.

For farmers across the country a good broadband connection is also becoming an essential part of modern legislation. For example, it is compulsory that VAT returns are submitted online. The Rural Payment Agency and DEFRA allow paper and online form submission.

What does it mean for landowners with telecom sites on their property?

The new 4G network may require some operators to upgrade and install equipment outside o their present contracts inevitably leading to operators looking to re-negotiate terms. Where sites are strategically important to operators, this could offer landlords an opportunity to negotiate more favourable terms and lease payments. We recommend landowners seek professional advice if they wish to maximise this income stream.

This article also appears on the Cornish Mutual blog.