Apple's iPhone 12 to work on 5G: A predicament for landlords - Boodle Hatfield

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16 Oct 2020

Apple’s iPhone 12 to work on 5G: A predicament for landlords

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2 min read

Apple have this week unveiled their first iPhone with 5G capabilities.

5G is faster than 3G and 4G; offers greater capacity, meaning a lot more devices can be connected at the same time; and reduces latency making it more responsive.

5G could see the end of fixed broadband. Currently, broadband involves a series of physical connections: often this is fibre cabling from the exchange to the cabinet nearest to the building and then either fibre or copper cabling from the cabinet to the building.

Whilst 5G is not necessarily faster than fibre broadband, it is likely to be faster than broadband relying on copper cabling between the cabinet and the building. More often than not, this is the case. This connection is the weak link in the chain. Copper cabling is much slower than fibre, is vulnerable to interference and can be easily broken. 5G can therefore provide a good alternative to tenants who do not have a fibre connection between the cabinet and their building.

5G does not require a physical connection into a building. For a tenant, this means they avoid the cable installation costs; they can be instantly connected to the internet on moving into the premises; and there is no need for a wayleave agreement.

There is a catch. 5G uses higher frequency waves than 3G and 4G which means it requires more transmitter masts and base stations. Therein lies the problem.

Since the introduction of the Electronic Communications Code in 2017, landowners have been reluctant to host telecoms equipment on their land and buildings. The transmitter masts and base stations needed for the 5G network fall squarely into the definition of telecoms equipment. The issues with the Code are well documented, with the reduction in revenue and the minimum 18 month termination period, should the landowner wish to carry out development works, being the key concerns for many.

5G sparks a predicament for landlords who will want to attract and retain tenants by offering easy connection to fast internet, but who also do not want to find themselves faced with waiting more than 18 months’ to redevelop their buildings.

One solution for those landlords might be to agree with both the telecoms provider and a neighbouring landowner, that in the event of redevelopment the equipment is to be temporarily rehoused on the neighbouring landowner’s land. Deals between neighbouring landowners might be reciprocal in nature. In addition, as part of any deal with the telecoms provider to host telecoms equipment, landlords should ensure that the telecoms equipment will be positioned or technology installed so that their tenants will directly benefit from the telecoms equipment.

If landlords work with neighbouring landowners and with telecoms providers to install the 5G infrastructure, then it will not be long until the iPhone’s 5G capabilities are being put to the test on a more widespread basis!


Apple has confirmed its iPhone 12 handsets will be its first to work on faster 5G networks.

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