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UK set to implement new rules for fibre and 5G builds

The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill is supposed to help smooth 5G and fibre rollouts as well as address security issues on smart gadgets.

The legislation has been knocking about for a while and now appears to be nearing the end of the usual lengthy process of consultation, debate and sign off. There are two parts to it – the first looking at speeding up 5G and fibre rollouts in the UK and the other looking at security on smart gadgets.

With regards to the infrastructure builds, the bill purports to address an apparent issue in which ‘many telecoms operators and landowners report experiencing difficulties when negotiating requests for rights to install, use and upgrade telecoms infrastructure,’ and a ‘lack of clarity and consistency’ when it comes to the process involving renewal agreements. All in all, this could be slowing down 5G and fibre rollouts in the UK, we’re told.

New measures will look to alleviate this by making changes to the Electronic Communications Code which will ‘encourage collaborative negotiations for agreeing new – and renewing expired – agreements by introducing a requirement for telecoms operators to consider the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’) rather than legal proceedings in cases where there are difficulties in agreeing terms,’ and introduce ‘new provisions to enable operators to obtain Code rights over certain types of land quickly in circumstances where a landowner does not respond.’

The long and short of it seems to be about making different parties that might have a dog in the race when it comes to putting up masts or laying cable – be they kit vendors, operators, infrastructure providers, lawyers or landowners – work together more efficiently and solve disputes quicker when the arise, in order than network infrastructure builds are not slowed down by too much back and forth.

The other part of the bill looks at security on smart gadgets – which the government reckons only one in five of which have basic security requirements (the big CE manufacturers would presumably dispute that).

New rules would ‘require manufacturers, importers and distributors to comply with new security requirements relating to consumer connectable products; and create an enforcement regime with civil and criminal sanctions aimed at preventing insecure products being made available on the UK market.”

“We are pleased the Bill has been approved by Parliament,” Julia Lopez, Digital Infrastructure Minister, told ISPreview. “It will improve the use of existing infrastructure and help landowners and telecoms companies agree deals quicker – meaning people get better mobile and broadband sooner, no matter if they live in a city centre flat or village farmhouse. The legislation will also strengthen cyber protection to make sure the UK has the strongest security regime for smart tech in the world.”

It’s a sensible enough thing to address if the process of getting networks built is as described occasionally bogged down by different parties not playing nicely together, but why the bill simultaneously looks to make sure security on gadgets such as smart speakers is up to scratch seems a bit odd. Again, it would be a sensible enough thing for lawmakers to be looking at if what they claim is true (though it sounds like that could be debated) but it seems like a different issue entirely to legal disputes around infrastructure.

How much either situation is sped up or improved by the government sticking its ore in in is another question. ISPReview

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