Vodafone has called for the law to be changed to give mobile network operators easier access to mast sites.
Operators have long argued that the laws connected to site access can prevent them fixing faults on mast sites. In cases when access relies on an agreement with an individual landowner, the process can be lengthy and in some cases involve legal proceedings.
Last week MP’s debated changes to the Electronic Communications Code which it widely anticipated to be the method the Government uses to change the law.
Vodafone is keen that the Code is altered to give it the legal basis to gain quicker access to sites: ‘The number one change we are after is site access,’ Vodafone’s, EMF Unit Manager Dr Robert Matthews told Mobile: ‘we currently have to go through lengthy negotiations with landlords and face serious issues just trying to get on to the land.
‘In most cases disputes our resolved before we go to court, we don’t like to go to court because it sours the relationship with the landlord, it’s very much as last resort. But in some cases it is necessary.
‘There was one landlord who had a knowledge about radio waves and erected a pole with a metal sheet attached to the top, this blocked our signal and was known as the fly swatter. We had to go to court to get access to the site but all the while our customers received no signal.’
‘When we agreed the 90% coverage agreement we wanted changes to the ECC to be a part of that with site access very much one of the major changes.’
Matthews wants changes to the code to be part of a wider ‘pro-telecoms’ change of approach taken by Government, he said: ‘We want to see a pro-telecoms view taken in the new code- which was created before mobile networks began. We’ll be watching with interest to see the response to the government’s consultation.
‘Some councils are pro telecoms, some are not – that’s where you want the government to come in. These days however, we are seeing more councils take a positive approach to telecoms.’