Telecommunications access agreements – did you know?
21 March 2023
What is an access agreement?
An access agreement, or a Multi-Skilled Visit (MSV) as it is otherwise known, is an agreement between a landowner and a telecommunications operator, which allows the latter to carry out a survey of the site to decide whether a site is suitable for the installation and operation of telecommunications apparatus.
What form does an access agreement take?
An access agreement or MSV is typically in the telecommunications operators’ standard form of agreement with any reasonable amendments required by the landowner so as to make it a more balanced document.
Access agreements will often include the following:
- The obligations of each party
- Any special access arrangements that must be complied with when accessing the land
- The number of times during the agreement in which the site can be accessed by the operator
- An indemnity given by the operator to the landowner
Who covers the costs of an access agreement?
The telecommunications operators are required to cover the landowner’s reasonable legal expenses for dealing with an access agreement or MSV (should a landowner choose to instruct a solicitor).
What happens after an access agreement?
After an access agreement or MSV has been completed, the telecommunications operator will review the results of the survey and decide whether the site is suitable for the installation and operation of the required apparatus.
If the results of the survey confirm that the site is suitable, the telecommunications operator will likely prepare the drawings and apply for planning permission to install the apparatus (if necessary) before suggesting terms for a lease or agreement to install the apparatus.
If an access agreement or MSV has revealed that the site is unsuitable for the installation of telecommunications apparatus, no further action will be taken.
Can an access agreement be imposed on a landowner?
The answer to this is yes – an access agreement or MSV can be imposed on a landowner where agreement cannot be reached voluntarily. The Tribunal has made it clear that landowners have limited ability to resist requests for access.
Under paragraph 26 of the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) the telecommunications operators have a statutory right to access or conduct the MSV and may apply to the Tribunal for access. The Tribunal can impose an agreement permitting access without the need for the landowner’s consent. That said, applications to the Tribunal can be a lengthy and costly process and so telecommunications operators will seek to agree an access agreement voluntarily where possible.
For further advice, please contact a member of Birketts’ Telecommunications Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at March 2023.