Sharon McDermott – MD and founder of Trenches Law – looks at the telcos landscape over the coming year, with a particular focus on challenges and trends…

What will impact the market over the next 12 months?

Changes in the electronic communications code will help operators build their network and deliver broadband at a quicker rate. This means that it will be cheaper, more efficient and faster for operators to provide broadband to occupiers and tenants in multi-dwelling units in the UK, but particularly London, by using the court system – the changes will mean this process is much more streamlined.

As lawyers in the telecoms sector, we know first-hand how difficult wayleave matters can be. But we can also vouch that it is possible to enter into proactive, successful dialogue with landowners and landlords, to negotiate those all-important right-of-way permissions that enable network expansions.

Are there any big issues impacting your market and what do you perceive the big applications will be over the coming year?

It is difficult for operators to get permission from freeholders to install broadband for the tenants or occupiers of MDUs. However, the proposed changes in the code will mean that it is cheaper and faster for the operators to use the court system.

The number of operators utilising the court to exercise Code Powers is likely to increase given the Government’s latest proposed changes to the code – simplifying and speeding up the process and drastically reducing the associated costs. A degree of confidence, creativity and experience does help when it comes to this stage of the process, but for people who work in this world daily, this exploration of different angles is the norm.

Any opinions/ predication on markets or likely application trends?

Operators will enable broadband to be supplied to more homes. The Government has pledged that by 2025-2027 15 million premises will have access to gigabit full fibre to the premises, and the ultimate aim is nationwide access to gigabit full fibre to the premise coverage by 2033.