5G – Opportunity or Threat? | Technology law

John McLean, Head of Thursfields’ TMT team took part in a fascinating round table discussion on the impact of 5G on the region, arranged by Insider Media.

Thursfields’ telecoms specialist John joined a prestigious line up, including Robert Franks Managing Director of West Midlands 5G, and Dan Pech Regional Director for Vodafone.  The programme then included a tour of the secure data facility at Six Degrees Birmingham.

John gave some valuable insight from a legal perspective to the discussion, and commented on use of the West Midlands as a test bed for 5G:

“Landowners can see 5G as a threat.  With the introduction of the new electronic communications code, which is driving down rents, they may fear that they won’t get as much money as they used to on a property when 5G kit is set up on a premises.  Because 5G kit requires lots of smaller masts, the potential for more inconvenience and less income is increased.  Other landowners can see it as an opportunity: where it might not previously have been possible to make a mobile call within a building, if we have 5G, the landlord and its tenants can run their business more effectively, making the building more attractive as a business location.  It all depends on how a building is used, or whether it is scheduled for redevelopment, as to whether 5G will be friend or foe for landowners.

The important thing is that landowners seek advice when approached by operators for the installation of apparatus, as the agreements which regulate such apparatus are governed by a specialist piece of legislation called the electronic communications code.  Landowners need to understand the rights and obligations of operators under the code before signing any documents.  A specialist telecoms lawyer is needed in order to help navigate the complex provisions of the code.”

John commented that “The roundtable discussion gave a real insight into the potential opportunities 5G presents, from a cross section of businesses.  Changes to the way paramedics are able to perform and respond to road traffic accidents, and driverless car technology are two of the possibilities.  It also highlighted some concerns and challenges that it, as with any new technology, will face. It is exciting that the West Midlands is at the forefront of the change, and well placed to take advantage of it.”

If you are a landowner and require advice on any proposed telecoms mast agreement or cabling wayleave, or an operator and require assistance with preparing standard code agreements or wayleaves, then please give John a call on 0121 227 3360 or email him on jmclean@thursfields.co.uk , and he will be delighted to discuss further with you.

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