The Queen’s Speech 2019

The Queen’s Speech 2019

Following last week’s electoral success for the Conservative party, the PM’s legislative agenda for broadband and telecoms was set out in the Queen’s speech yesterday (19 December 2019).

The text largely reflects the previously announced Government policy plans detailed in the Queen’s speech in October 2019. It outlines legislation required to accelerate the delivery of gigabit-capable broadband nationwide “as soon as possible” previously defined by the now re-instated, and soon to be ennobled, Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, by the end of 2025.

The Statement of Strategic Priorities for Ofcom in support of this agenda has also now been formalised with Ofcom’s response published earlier in the week, underpinning the regulatory framework in support of the deployment of digital infrastructure

Broadband legislation

  • Wayleaves proposals will be taken forward in the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill, creating a cheaper and faster light-touch tribunal process for telecoms companies to obtain interim code rights (or access rights) for a period of up to 18 months. This will mean that they can install broadband connections where the landlord has failed to respond to repeated requests for access.
  • Amending legislation so that all new build homes are required to have the infrastructure to support gigabit-capable connections by bringing forward New Build proposals
  • Reforming the Building Act 1984 requiring developers to work with broadband companies to install gigabit-capable connections in virtually all new build homes, up to a cost cap

The Government’s pledge for £5 billion to support the rollout of gigabit-capable connection to the hardest to reach 20% of the country was also restated. This is alongside the £650 million to stimulate the market to deploy gigabit-capable connections in urban and rural areas in the two years to 2021.

The National Infrastructure Strategy will set out further details of the £100 billion investment plans across all areas of economic infrastructure, and will be published alongside the Budget in February.

Online Harms

The Government also outlined its plans for its online harms agenda, and the development of the Online Harms Bill following the April 2019 consultation. Ahead of this legislation, the Government will publish interim codes of practice on tackling the use of the internet by terrorists and those engaged in child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The Government also reaffirmed the introduction of an Australian style points based immigration system, alongside its central pledge for the UK to leave the EU by the end of January, and negotiate a future relationship with the EU by the end of 2020.