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Competition authorities approve sale of Three's masts to Cellnex
United Kingdom Created: 10 Mar 2022
The UK competition watchdog has given its approval to the sale of 6,000 mobile sites owned by Three’s parent company CK Hutchison - provided new owner Cellnex dispenses with 1,000 of its own.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had been holding up the completion of a €10 billion deal covering six European markets, fearing that it would give Cellnex too strong a position in the passive infrastructure market following its purchase of Arqiva’s assets in 2020.

Transactions for CK Hutchison’s masts have already been approved in Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden.
Cellnex Three mast sale

Specifically, the CMA feared Cellnex’s position would prevent the creation of an alternative infrastructure provider, strengthening Cellnex’s hand in negotiations with mobile operators. This situation, it argued, and would ultimately lead to higher prices and lower quality mobile service for consumers.

However, the CMA is satisfied that its concerns can be addressed if Cellnex sells any site that geographically overlaps with one it intends to purchase from CK Hutchison. Any buyer would need to be approved by the CMA.

“Our decision today helps protect competition in infrastructure that mobile phone operators rely on,” declared Richard Feasey, Chair of the independent Inquiry Group. “The sale of this significant package of assets will allow a major supplier to compete against Cellnex when mobile networks look to negotiate new contracts in future.

“This, in turn, stops the threat of higher prices or worse terms for the operators and their customers as a result of this deal.”

Cellnex leases out infrastructure such as towers to operators so they can install their active equipment such as antennas to power their services. Using a third-party provider means operators are spared the additional cost and burden of maintenance.

Rival operator BT-EE had also argued the deal would impact competition but Three and Cellnex claimed the merger would actually achieve the opposite effect. In their submission to the CMA, the two companies said the deal was “strongly pro-competitive” and reflected a wider trend in the industry for operators to spin off or sell their passive infrastructure to third parties in order to raise revenues for network construction.

Cellnex added the mobile market will benefit from its ability to offer third parties access to the masts and accelerate the rollout of 5G across the UK from all operators. Meanwhile, CK Hutchison said the deal will unlock vital funds for its own 5G rollout.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: TechRadar, Steve McCaskill, 04 Mar 2022

More than 50 dogs - including one from Paw Patrol - join phone mast protest
United Kingdom Created: 10 Mar 2022
Scores of dogs became the latest group to stage a protest in Bristol at the weekend - after they came with their owners to campaign against a mobile phone mast being erected in their local park.

More than 50 dogs from in and around Knowle turned out for the protest in Redcatch Park against plans by two mobile phone companies to erect a 24 metre high phone mast in the middle of the greenspace.

The phone company say they need to replace a mast that had previously been on a local pub, and despite owning the park, Bristol City Council say the law on erecting phone masts is heavily weighted in the phone companies’ favour that the council could be taken to court if they don’t let the mast be erected.

The unusual protest happened on Saturday afternoon and was led by somebody dressed as Marshall from kids TV programme Paw Patrol.

The local residents said that as well as having an unsightly 24 metre high mast in the middle of a local park, the compound and associated equipment around it would take up a big part of the green open space at Redcatch Park.

"This is a beautiful park, but the mast will spoil it,” said Mabel, Chloe and Digby, who took part in the protest. “We love walking our dogs here and it will just spoil the open space for the dogs to run around freely in. We use the park every day and have so many happy memories here.”

Local residents have formed a group called Residents Against The Mast. It’s co-leader is Sian Ellis Thomas.

“It's estimated that over 100 dogs use this park on a regular basis, I certainly use it up to three times a day for my own dog Rachel,” she said. “It's such an important space shared by dogs, kids, wildlife and people of every stripe. It's a truly communal space and essential in so many ways to the wellbeing of all.”

The campaign is trying to get 3,500 signatures on an online petition by March 15 to present to Bristol City Council. Already there have been hundreds of letters of objection, but the plans to erect the temporary phone mast do not need planning permission.

Under fairly recent changes to the law made by the Government to speed up the roll-out of better mobile phone coverage, phone companies have an almost default permission to put up temporary masts.

Bristol City Council said their powers to stop the mast are limited. In a statement issued at the start of the campaign, a spokesperson for the council said the Electronics Communication Code legislation gave a lot of power to telecoms firms to install mobile phone masts where they decided there was a need.

"This is not a council scheme and relates to a process where the council as landowner has limited powers with which to oppose the temporary mast," he said.

"Despite being the landowner, there is legislation in place that limits council powers to prevent this type of work and allows telecoms operators to install their equipment (including masts) on a temporary basis.

"In this case, we have been approached by the telecoms provider to install a mast in order to prevent loss of service or network disruption following the impending loss of an existing site. In their proposal to the council, the provider has made it clear that they will seek a court order if needed to carry out this work. We continue to seek expert legal and telecoms advice and the telecoms operator has been asked to justify their use of these emergency powers," he added.

As residents in Ashton Gate found in November 2020, Government legislation effectively gives mobile phone companies almost automatic permission to erect temporary phone masts, unless there are strong objections from local council chiefs.

The mast is being proposed by Hutchison 3G and EE phone companies. A spokesperson for Walden Communications, the mobile phone mast installers, said the temporary mast is required in the area to boost mobile phone signals, after a mast was taken down from the site of a nearby former pub in Axminster Road.

A spokesperson for MNBL, the company behind the application, said: "The temporary site at Redcatch Park is to provide coverage following the loss of our permanent site which was housed at The Friendship Inn public house in Knowle.

"The building and land was acquired by developers and meant that we needed to vacate. This has resulted in a loss of coverage for both EE and Three customers.

"We do endeavour to find permanent solutions as quickly as possible but where circumstances prevail we work with the Local Planning Authorities to deploy temporary equipment so that the network services can be maintained, and those residents and businesses that rely upon EE and Three remain connected.

"We will continue to work closely with Bristol City Council and the Planning officers, as well as the Local Community during this process," they added.

Residents have until a deadline of March 7 to register objections to the proposal with Bristol City Council, with the matter being considered by an internal council committee, which could deny the phone companies a licence to erect the mast.

They could then go to court to appeal against that decision. “With the unprecedented amount of objection letters and the amount of publicity we have received for our campaign, we are hoping we are successful, but until that time, the fight goes on,” said Ms Ellis Thomas.

Campaigners are now planning to blitz local streets in Knowle, Totterdown and Bedminster with another 5,000 leaflets through letterboxes to add to the 5,000 already delivered.

The online petition against the mast has already gained 2,500 signatures, and the number of objection letters sent directly to the council is approaching 200.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Bristol Post, Tristan Cork, 28 Feb 2022

Phone mast proposals will put further pressure on landowners
United Kingdom Created: 2 Feb 2022
A new Bill is before Parliament which critics fear will accelerate downward pressure on mobile phone mast rents.

The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on 26 January.

The government says the aim is to encourage faster and more collaborative negotiations for the installation and maintenance of telecoms equipment on private land.

But campaigners say the changes outlined by the Bill will make it harder for site owners to appeal against arbitrary rent cuts demanded by operators.

The Protect and Connect campaign group said mobile phone giants were holding site owners to ransom.

“Telecom companies who have just imposed price rises of close to 10% now want to pay site owners as little as £50 a year to host mobile phone masts.”

The main changes the Bill would make include:

New provisions to actively encourage alternative dispute resolution rather than legal proceedings where possible

Introducing a faster procedure to allow telecoms operators to get temporary rights to access and install infrastructure on land when an occupier is not responsive

Giving telecoms operators rights to automatically upgrade and share equipment that was installed before 2017

Changes to the terms for renewing certain types of telecoms agreements that were in place before December 2017.

Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser at the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), said there was a concern that the government was seeking to change the basis of renewal rents on telecoms leases protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

There were also changes proposed that would give operators the ability to ask for a new agreement while one was already in place, Mr Moody said, “which basically means no landowner would ever know where they stand, and that accelerates the process of how rents might move”.

While there was talk of better complaints procedures and operators being encouraged to find alternative means of dispute resolution, this would only work if the provisions had teeth, he warned.

“Our basic observation is that the more power an acquirer has, the worse they can behave. If they know that there will be checks, that would be an enormous improvement.”

MPs challenging Bill

Mr Moody said it was heartening that several backbenchers who took part in the Commons debate had been critical of the valuation provisions, the powers given to operators, and the behaviours of parties.

They were also anxious about dispute resolution.

He said that the irony of the situation was that mobile phone operators were benefitting less and less from the powers being given to them, because they had sold their masts to stand-alone companies.

“The mast owners get the benefit of the cheap rent from the landowner and then charge the mobile companies full rent, so the value is being taken from the landowner and passed to the mast owner.

“It is not getting to the people who provide the mobile phone service.”

Next steps

The Bill has now moved to the committee stage, where it will face further scrutiny.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 15 March, and the committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 29 March.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Farmers Weekly, Isabel Davies, 01 Feb 2022

Bid for towering 5G mobile phone mast outside Black Country museum thrown out
United Kingdom Created: 2 Feb 2022
A BID for a 15-metre mobile phone mast which would have "overshadowed the entrance" to the Black Country Museum and affected views from the attraction has been thrown out.

An application for the towering 5G mast near the museum entrance on Tipton Road has been turned down by planners at Dudley Council after the museum objected to the proposal.

It said it would spoil the atmosphere that it creates for visitors.

The museum stated: "It will overshadow the museum entrance"

"It will prejudice views from the museum looking southwards.

"At 15metres high it will protrude above the skyline against the heritage assets impacting and prejudicing the atmosphere the museum portrays to visitors."

It also said cabinets at the base of the mast could affect the view onto Tipton Road for vehicles leaving the car park.

Planners at Dudley Council agreed that the mast would spoil the experience for visitors and turned down the application for prior approval.

They stated: "The proposed mast and its associated ancillary equipment by reason of its siting, excess height, and appearance, would if approved, be harmful to the adjacent heritage assets at the Black Country Living Museum and the locally distinctive character of the wider area.

"The proposal would be insensitive, unsympathetic and harmful to the significance of the heritage assets and would fail to protect and preserve their setting."

The bid from CK Hutchison Networks Ltd was for a 15-metre mast with six antennas and four equipment cabinets.

It was refused on January 31. The site is in the Castle and Priory ward.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Dudley News, Helen Attwood, 01 Feb 2022

The people deciding to ditch their smartphones
United Kingdom Created: 24 Jan 2022
In a world where many of us are glued to our smartphones, Dulcie Cowling is something of an anomaly - she has ditched hers.

The 36-year-old decided at the end of last year that getting rid of her handset would improve her mental health. So, over Christmas she told her family and friends that she was switching to an old Nokia phone that could only make and receive calls and text messages.

She recalls that one of the pivotal moments that led to her decision was a day at the park with her two boys, aged six and three: "I was on my mobile at a playground with the kids and I looked up and every single parent - there was up to 20 - were looking at their phones, just scrolling away," she says.

"I thought 'when did this happen?'. Everyone is missing out on real life. I don't think you get to your death bed and think you should have spent more time on Twitter, or reading articles online."

Ms Cowling, who is a creative director at London-based advertising agency Hell Yeah!, adds that the idea to abandon her smartphone had built up during the Covid lockdowns.

"I thought about how much of my life is spent looking at the phone and what else could I do. Being constantly connected to lots of services creates a lot of distractions, and is a lot for the brain to process."

She plans to use the time gained from quitting her smartphone to read and sleep more.

About nine out of 10 people in the UK now own a smartphone, a figure broadly replicated across the developed world. And we are glued to them - one recent study found that the average person spends 4.8 hours a day on their handset.

Yet for a small, but growing number of people, enough is enough.

Alex Dunedin binned his smartphone two years ago. "Culturally we have become addicted to these tools," says the educational researcher and technology expert. "They are blunting cognition and impeding productivity."

Mr Dunedin, who lives and works in Scotland, says another reason behind his decision was environmental concerns. "We are wasting exponential amounts of energy producing exponential amounts of CO2 emissions," he says.

He has become happier and more productive since he stopped using a smartphone, he says. Mr Dunedin doesn't even have an old-fashioned mobile phone or even a landline anymore. He is instead only electronically contactable via emails to his home computer.

"It has improved my life," he says. "My thoughts are freed up from constantly being cognitively connected to a machine that I need to feed with energy and money. I think that the danger of technologies is that they are emptying our lives."

Lynne Voyce, a 53-year-old teacher and writer from Birmingham, has moved in the opposite direction - she started using a smartphone again last August after a break of six years.

She says she was reluctantly compelled to buy one again due to having to deal with QR codes in restaurants, and so-called Covid passports, plus making it easier to keep in touch with one of her daughters who lives in Paris.

But she plans to give up it up again, if she can. "After the pandemic, and when Ella [her eldest daughter] isn't living abroad, I might try and give it up again. It sounds like an addiction, doesn't it?"

When Ms Voyce first abandoned her smartphone back in 2016 it was to help encourage her daughters to reduce the time they spent on their handsets.

"They were glued to their phones. I thought the only way to stop it was to get rid of my own phone. And it made all the difference.

"For example, we'd got to a restaurant, and they would no longer see me pick up my phone."

Not having a smartphone "took a lot of pressure off my brain" she says, "I didn't feel like I had to instantly answer things or be available when out".

Yet, while some worry about how much time they spend on their handset, for millions of others they are a godsend.

"More than ever, access to healthcare, education, social services and often to our friends and family is digital, and the smartphone is an essential lifeline for people," says a spokesperson for UK mobile network Vodafone.

"We also create resources to help people get the most from their tech, as well as to stay safe when they're online - that's hugely important."

However, Hilda Burke, a psychotherapist and author of The Phone Addiction Workbook, says there is a strong link between heavy device usage and relationship issues, quality of sleep, our ability to switch off and relax, and concentration levels.

"Many people have a constant drip feed of requests coming their way via their device, many with a false sense of urgency.

"They feel unable to lay boundaries down, with the result that they feel compelled to check their emails and messages last thing at night and first thing in the morning."

If getting rid of your smartphone seems too much but you are concerned that you spend too much time on it, there are other measures you can take to reduce your usage.

While it might initially seem counterintuitive, more apps are emerging to curtail mindless scrolling.

For example, Freedom lets you temporarily block apps and websites so you can focus more. And Off The Grid enables you to block off your phone for a certain time period.

Ms Burke says it would be useful if more people monitored how much time they spend on their smartphone. "Starting to realise exactly how much time you're frittering away each day on your phone can be a powerful wake-up call and catalyst for change."

She also advises carving out short periods when you have your phone switched off or left at home, and gradually increase the wait period till you check it again.

Finally, she recommends choosing an image or a word that represents what you would rather be doing - if only you had more time - as your phone's screensaver.

"Considering most of us check our phones 55 times per day and some of us even 100 times, this is a great visual reminder of a more valuable way to spend your precious time," she says.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: BBC, Suzanne Bearne, 24 Jan 2022

Douglas Council welcomes scrapping of 'unacceptable' phone mast
United Kingdom Created: 24 Jan 2022
Controversial plans for a phone mast in a conservation area would have had an unacceptable impact on the area, Douglas Council has said.

The Environment Department this week supported an independent planning inspector's recommendation to throw out the application by telecoms firm Sure.

The authority had lodged an appeal against the initial decision to approve the structure in July.

Sure chief executive Mike Phillips said he was "disappointed" by the decision.

The plans for a 15m (49ft) pole on an empty plot of land on Woodbourne Lane in Douglas drew an angry response from residents in the area when approved by planners.

'Sensitive and protected'

Douglas councillor Falk Horning said the authority was "delighted" the appeal against that decision had been upheld.

Mr Horning said: "While the Council understands the importance of a high quality mobile phone network, the proposal in this case would have had a completely unacceptable impact on the surrounding area.

"The council considers that mobile network operators should be doing more to work together to share infrastructure so that it does not proliferate, particularly in sensitive and protected parts of the borough and the wider island."

The inspector's report said the proposal would have caused significant harm to the character of the surrounding area, and the firm had failed to demonstrate a strategic national need for the development on that site.

Sure previously said the permanent mobile antenna and supporting structure were needed as part of the firm's efforts to "future-proof the island's mobile technologies including 5G".

Responding to the decision to throw out the plans, Mr Phillips said the firm's services were "critical to our community" and the proposal had been in line with the government's national telecommunications strategy.

"Continued investment in additional equipment is required to address exponentially rising demand from customers," he added.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: BBC News, 20 Jan 2022

Hove residents set up petition to fight rooftop 5G mast
United Kingdom Created: 28 Dec 2021
Neighbours fighting plans for a 5G mast on the roof of their block of flats have started a petition aimed at thwarting telecoms bosses.

Vodafone and O2 wanted to put 12 masts and four dishes on the roof of Park Lodge, in Dyke Road, Hove, as well as seven cabinets in the communal garden.

Their infrastructure business Cornerstone submitted a planning application to Brighton and Hove City Council in the summer but, in the face of opposition, withdrew it.

Leaseholders in the block believe that a revised application is on the cards.

So they have started a petition asking the council to protect land between Dyke Road, Old Shoreham Road and The Upper Drive.

They want the council to bring in a policy – known as an Article 4 Direction = that would prevent telecoms masts being granted planning permission under a process known as “prior approval”.

The petition said: “Dyke Road Park is recognised on the Brighton and Hove List of Heritage Assets. It is rich in flora and fauna, some of which has protected status. This includes vintage elm trees, badgers and bats.

“It is used by the wider population and students attending the five schools in the vicinity. It is part of the urban ‘green lung’ connecting coast to downland as part of the UNESCO sponsored Living Coast.

“The proposed area has concentrated use by young people for substantial amounts of time for education and leisure purposes.

“A precautionary approach to the introduction of 5G technology in the identified area is prudent and called for.”

Park Lodge resident Valerie Bundy, who has campaigned against mobile phone masts on top of her home for more than 20 years, led the most recent campaign against the proposed masts.

She marked out a space in the block’s communal garden to show how much would be lost if Cornerstone installed its masts and cabinets there.

Miss Bundy said: “A recent invalidated attempt to place a large network of 5G masts and dishes on the roof and ‘theft’ of a large portion of a small community garden that is home to wildlife including protected species highlighted how vulnerable the area is to such a development.

“The park is recognised by Brighton and Hove as a ‘heritage asset of local value’, is used and loved by a wide section of the community.

“We want to protect the special character of this area and keep it for the use of current and future generations to enjoy without this oppressive development undermining their enjoyment of the area.”

Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen said that he and his fellow Hove Park ward councillor Vanessa Brown supported the petition and hoped to present it to a meeting of the full council in February.

He said: “It comes on the back of a small win to stall the application for an array on top of Park Lodge against the wishes of both leaseholders and freeholders.

“We’ve just turned round an application for a mast in Shirley Drive, at the bottom of Tongdean Road, so we will always fight applications that do not recognise or consult with our residents.”

The petition is open until Wednesday 2 February on the council website. To read it or sign it, click here:
https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=802&RPID=50454719&HPID=50454719
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Brighton and Hove News, Sarah Booker-Lewis, 22 Dec 2021

Government rejects calls for mobile phone mast overhaul
United Kingdom Created: 27 Nov 2021
Campaigners have warned that community groups which rent land to mobile phone giants have seen income collapse due to Government rule changes.

Community groups across the country are set to miss out on millions of pounds in rent payments from telecoms giants for phone masts on their land after the Government rejected calls for a rule change.

Visitor centres, churches and schools had been urging ministers to overturn controversial rules that led to a recalculation of rental values, leaving them around £1 billion out of pocket since 2017.

The Digital Economy Act saw rents reduced by 90% for organisations and landowners that host masts and telecoms infrastructure.

A consultation was opened by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to look at changing the rules but the Government has now rejected them, instead offering a new complaints process.

Campaigners reacted with fury at the decision and warned that charities and organisations could suffer.

In 2017, the Government changed the valuation methodology, which has resulted in mobile phone companies demanding rent reductions of up to 90%.

It has hit thousands of small businesses and individuals at a time when many are already facing financial hardship.

Research carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that the sports and social clubs, farmers, churches, charities and small businesses which provide telecommunications sites across the UK have collectively lost £209 million in rent each year since the change.

Campaigners say the Government should have used the proposed legislation to undertake a thorough review of the valuation system in order to assess the impact of the 2017 amendment.

Instead, it is proposing a complex complaints process intended to manage negotiations between landowner and mobile phone operator.

Chairwoman of the Protect and Connect campaign Anna Turley said: “The Government has been completely tin-eared in this consultation.

“Thousands of people responded to highlight the problem of land valuation.

“The vast majority explained what it is like to host a mobile phone mast and have your rent slashed and rights over your land or property handed over to telecoms giants.

“The Government has ridden rough-shod over their views and given in to the demands of these companies, who are making huge profits at the expense of charities, sports clubs, councils and farmers.”

One of the affected groups, nature charity Highfield Park Visitor Centre in St Albans, Hertfordshire, said its rental income from masts has fallen from £10,000 a year to just £200.

Park manager Richard Bull said: “I can’t believe the Government is allowing this to happen. We saw our £10,000 annual rent cut to just £200, which has had a devastating impact on our charity.

“We wanted them to take their mast away – but of course they won’t; instead they’re adding more and more infrastructure and we can’t do anything about it.

“It is very disappointing that the Government places business needs above everything else.”

Ed Bailey, who runs a family hill farm in Gwynedd, North Wales has also been badly affected.

He originally agreed a rent of £5,500 a year early in 2017 with a network operator to have a telecoms mast on his land.

But, months later, after telecoms companies were granted extra powers, the rent offer was reduced to just £3.50 a year.

Mr Bailey said: “Negotiations were very stressful. I felt we were taken advantage of as a family.

“I can’t believe the Government is allowing this to happen to more people up and down the country, and I can’t help but think that all of this will slow down digital connectivity because who is going to want a mast on their land now?”
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Evening Standard, Simon Neville, 25 Nov 2021

65ft phone mast will be built by homes in Wakefield because 'government doesn't have a clue'
United Kingdom Created: 24 Nov 2021
The government has insisted on a 5G mast being built on a busy road in Wakefield, just months after the local council rejected such plans.

Campaigners thought they’d successfully seen off a proposal to build a 20 metre (65 foot) mast on Dewsbury Road in Lupset.

Planning officers at Wakefield Council said the structure would be an eyesore “at odds” with the surrounding area when they turned the plans down in June.

Click here for more news and updates from Wakefield

But government officials, who looked at the case after the developers appealed, have disagreed with that assessment and overturned the decision.

In their findings, the Planning Inspectorate described the mast as “essential” and said the need for “an electronic communications system should not be questioned”.

The mast will be 15 metres – five shorter than originally proposed – and be placed near the small Sainsbury’s store in the area.

But Wakefield West councillor Michael Graham, one of 86 people to object to the original application, said he was deeply unhappy with the result.

He said: “It makes you think, what is the point of the planning process here if the decision is just going to get overturned?

“Clearly they (the government) think local people don’t have a clue about their own communities.

“I know the people living directly facing where it’s going to be aren’t happy about it and I just don’t think it’s the right place.

“With all the street furniture that comes with it it’s going to be so prominent.”

In their report, the Planning Inspectorate said the mast will “not unacceptably harm the character and appearance” of the area.

They cited street furniture such as speed cameras, street lights and bus stops already on Dewsbury Road as evidence it will not be overly intrusive.

Dismissing concerns that people’s house prices may be affected by the move, the report said: “The planning system does not exist to protect private interests such as value of land or property.”

Councillor Graham said he disagreed with the findings and added: “I know some people are happy with the extra signal it will bring, but for me, on balance I don’t think the inconvenience of having this there is worth it.

“I think they could have found somewhere else for it.”

A number of objectors had cited health concerns in relation to 5G, many of which have no scientific basis in fact and have been peddled by Covid conspiracy theorists.

The council said these played no part in its decision to reject the proposal, as it was not in its remit to decide on “health safeguards”.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Yorkshire Live, David Spereall, 16 Nov 2021

Telecom behemoths slash phone mast rent by 90%, sparking outrage
United Kingdom Created: 23 Nov 2021
SMALL landowners who host phone masts are demanding a fair deal from telecom behemoths, who are threatening to slash rents by up to 90%.

A change in the law has resulted in a massive drop in income for sports clubs, farmers, charities, churches, hospitals, and community groups all over the country.

Telecom companies have taken advantage of rights granted to them under the 2017 Electronic Communications Code to reduce funding at a time when many community organizations are already struggling.

Some operators have been accused of employing aggressive tactics, including bullying, to compel landlords to accept the new terms or face legal action.

Anna Turley, a former Labour MP, is the chair of the Protect and Connect campaign, which is calling for a thorough review of the 2017 code’s impact.

Since its inception earlier this year, the organization has gathered the support of over 1,000 website owners.

“These large corporations, who make massive profits every year, have been given the power to essentially slash these rents,” Ms Turley explained.

“There’s actually a principle here, which is that there’s a real imbalance of power, aside from the financial cut and the impact on their ability to run their services or continue the sports facilities.”

“Through this code, the government gave these companies complete control in 2017, allowing them to pay whatever they want.”

“That’s a very unequal power balance.”

That isn’t a debate or a market negotiation; it is simply handing over complete control to the major corporations.”

There is also growing concern that the rent cuts will stymie the rollout of 5G across the country, with many small landowners threatening to demolish masts.

Protect and Connect claims that the mobile operators’ alleged aggressive behavior has already slowed the adoption of faster mobile connectivity, causing £2 billion in annual productivity losses.

The campaigners are concerned that the new Product Security and Telecoms Infrastructure Bill, which is expected to be passed before Christmas, will force sites to continue hosting masts despite rent reductions.

——————————————————–

Kathryn Bradshaw is outraged, calling it a “complete and utter disgrace” that community facilities will lose thousands of pounds in rent as a result of hosting masts.

Kathryn, 70, is the secretary of Fox Lane Sports and Social Club, which pays £7,800 per year for an EE mast.

This was predicted to drop to £780 two years ago.

Click here to view the source article.
Source: Brinkwire, Helena Sutan, 23 Nov 2021

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