Telecommunications Code 2017 - mobile and broadband connectivity
In 2018 the National Church Institutions signed an agreement with Government to encourage churches to consider how their buildings could contribute to achieving national targets for mobile and broadband connectivity. Subsequent to that agreement a new legal framework relating to all telecoms installations was introduced – the Electronic Communications Code. This fundamentally changed the rights and obligations of mobile network operators, giving them greater legal powers to position equipment where it was needed to address connectivity issues, and requiring owners of public buildings to work with the operators in a reasonable way. For these purposes churches are considered public buildings and many of our churches already host mobile technology.
However, the demands of the new Code are complex, with legal ramifications and so, to ensure that parishes are not left struggling to deal with this, the Church of England has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding between:
- Cornerstone (a Mobile Network Operator representing Vodafone and Telefonica (O2),
- Parish Buying, and
- Net Coverage Solutions.
This Memorandum sets out the terms, the rates, and a standard process for entering into a new telecomms agreement under the Electronic Communications Code 2017. The Church of England believes that these terms and rates represent good value for church sites, protect their interests, and comply with ecclesiastical law.
Using an existing phone-line to install a wifi router will be relatively simple, but most other connectivity proposals will be more complicated and will probably require a faculty, particularly if there is any associated structural work.
Your starting point, where you can find general guidance on issues concerning mobile infrastructure - reasons for getting connected, available solutions, legal considerations and possible grants/funding etc, is here: https://www.churchofengland.org/connectivity
In the legal considerations section ChurchCare have set out:
- the step-by-step process for obtaining a faculty for a wireless broadband or telecomms installation in your church building, and
- what you should consider when drawing up a licence agreement. A template licence agreement with NET Coverage Solutions is in place for mobile-network installations.
The Church of England strongly recommends that you use the standard contract framework arrangement and the Memorandum which have been put in place. If you need further information please contact:
- NET Coverage Solutions, or
- Caroline.Humphries@london.anglican.org (the Development Manager in the Diocese of London responsible for commercial aspects of mobile telecommunications installations in churches).
For guidance on obtaining planning permission, please see the note from Historic England (below).
[Page updated 15th June 2020]