By B.N. Frank
From This is Money:
Mobile phone giant Vodafone has suffered a defeat in court that could open the door to a wave of legal challenges by landowners that host 5G phone masts.
Operators such as Vodafone pay landowners billions of pounds in rents every year at thousands of sites – but hoped to reduce these under the Electronic Communications Code, which was introduced in 2017.
It was designed to speed up the roll-out of 5G by cutting costs for operators hoping to install the infrastructure quickly and cheaply.
The judge said he came to his decision because four operators use the phone mast in a car park on an industrial estate outside Stockport. Vodafone estimates that only around 10 per cent of its 18,000 UK sites are shared with other operators. Although Vodafone was only hoping to slash a few thousand pounds off this particular bill, it had spent more than £300,000 fighting the case because of the significance for rents at its other phone masts across the country.
Hanover is an Isle of Man-based company owned by Mark Harrison, a property entrepreneur originally from Manchester but now based in Monaco. He also owns property investment firm Praxis. Lawyers for Harrison said the terms Vodafone was offering were ‘unfair’ and he decided to fight them. They said other landowners would now have a good comparison to help them negotiate a better deal.
It means thousands more landowners could now fight the company on rents.
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