New code agreed to govern deployment of broadband apparatus

Out-Law News | 11 Jun 2013 | 3:23 pm | 1 min. read

A new code of practice will govern the deployment of fixed line broadband cabinets and poles.

The Government has published details of the code in a bid to "increase the pace of roll out of superfast broadband" whilst avoiding and minimising "adverse impacts" associated with the deployment of the above-ground telecoms infrastructure.

The code (10-page / 104KB PDF) sets out a framework for the siting and design of cabinets and poles, health and safety considerations that should be taken into account in the process, and a broad outline of how telecoms firms should handle any disputes over the infrastructure deployment. BT, Virgin Media, English Heritage and the Planning Officer's Society are among the organisations to have agreed on the code. The code does not cover the deployment of masts used for providing mobile broadband services.

Telecoms firms subject to the code are required "where possible" to ensure that they install new cabinets "on the publically maintained highway", but can install the apparatus on private land providing they have the written agreement of land owners. The code states that if it would result in "less visual harm" to install cabinets on private land, telecoms companies should "investigate

that option and give due consideration to its implementation" if it is "both commercially and technically feasible" to do so.

The companies would require planning permission to install cabinets that do not conform to set dimensions.

Under the code firms must offer to consult on their planned deployment of new cabinets or poles in order to "avoid and minimise adverse landscape impact" and ensure that the infrastructure is not installed in protected areas without proper consultation.

The code explains that telecoms firms should consult with local authorities about the colour of cabinets and avoid installing the apparatus adjacent to listed buildings, amongst other things. Health and safety considerations to be made include ensuring that there would be sufficient air circulation to prevent overheating at installed cabinets and that their siting would not present a safety hazard to disabled people.

Telecoms firms are also required to consider sharing pole structures during the design stage in order to limit the number of poles that require to be installed, under the code.