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A helping hand for telecoms
Sarah Eynon, associate director at the SFT and Infralink project director
Connectivity

A helping hand for telecoms 

Infralink brings operators and landlords together to grow network

As we recognise and build on the strengths of using digital connectivity in our lives, we need to remember all this can only be delivered if we have the necessary mobile digital infrastructure in place.

Digital telecommunication is still however considered a specialist area. Consequently, many landlords are not comfortable directly negotiating to have telecommunications equipment on their property.

Some landlords may choose to avoid the matter, which carries the risk of potential legal action. And some may instruct third parties to represent them. With this comes the expectation that the landlord is equipped to give clear and considered instructions, and without experience or knowledge of the sector, some landlords may find this challenging. There is however another option.

Providing a helping hand to potential landlords and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) is Infralink. Funded by the Scotland 5G Centre and led by infrastructure experts, the Scottish Futures Trust, Infralink provides an alternative way to achieve agreement for 4G and 5G sites.

By taking best practice to create standardised tools, the parties have an informed and balanced starting point for negotiations, making it more efficient for both parties and attracting greater investment into Scotland while improving national connectivity levels.

For example, by using standardised leases and payment guidance similar to Infralink, one combined authority in the West Midlands has seen lease negotiations reduce by six months.

For 4G and 5G sites, Infralink has published a set of standard leases and payment guidance to aid negotiations. The leases remove the need to negotiate stock terms allowing the parties to focus on the nuances of the site.

Using mediated templates as a starting point, the Infralink team has developed leases that are appropriate for less urban settings in Scotland, incorporating feedback from industry and public sector stakeholders.

The payment guidance sets out a recommended methodology with prices for a variety of sites, using existing land values and building upon case law. It also recognises the impact of digital infrastructure as a tenant and sets out suggested prices that can be used as a cred- ible starting point for discussions.

In March 2021, Infralink published the first version of the standard documents and payment guidance, and the response has been positive.

The programme is now looking for wider feedback on the documents as part of a consultation that is open on the Infralink website until 28 January, 2022.

And more is still to come. Infralink is developing a Connectivity Marketplace to be an online map-based tool for parties to engage collaboratively and identify public assets that could help improve mobile connectivity and capacity. The Infralink team is again using existing resources and datasets to minimise the burden on stakeholders and deliver the engagement tool at scale.

While the Infralink tools are not intended to be the end result for negotiations, they are a way to get there quicker.

Partner Content in association with Scottish Futures Trust

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