Covid-19: Can telecoms companies access their equipment on my land?

As the Government has implemented and extended social distancing measures, can a landowner prevent telecommunications companies, their employees and contractors from entering on their land when there will be two or more persons present?

The Government has issued guidance earlier this month to the effect that where two or more persons are gathered for the purposes of undertaking repair and maintenance of telecommunications infrastructure that is permissible under the social distancing measures. The Government has emphasised that the telecommunications network (which includes its infrastructure) is important and it has included it in the list of critical sectors.

The guidance has also stated that in circumstances where emergency access rights have been agreed (which will be the case in the majority, if not all access arrangements) it is crucial that they can remain to be relied upon and exercised in order to maintain the functionality and operation of the telecommunications network.

Where access is required to residential properties, telecommunications workers have been reminded that they should follow the guidance on social distancing in order to protect both the occupies and themselves.

Whilst the guidance does not necessarily create any new rights for the benefit of telecommunications companies or create any additional obligations on the part of landowners, it does serve as a timely reminder as to how landowners and telecommunications companies and those authorised by them should act.

For specific advice relating to telecommunications agreements and the Electronic Communications Code, please contact a member of our team. Call our dedicated Corporate and Commercial helpline on 0161 694 4143 for assistance.