Phone mast owners urged to cash-in on 4G upgrade

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Landlords of mobile phone masts could be in line for a financial windfall following the award of 4G licences, says a commercial property consultants.

Fisher German, based in High Street, Market Harborough, believes the auction of 4G permits to five mobile phone operators could have economic advantages for landlords with telecommunications leases.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has raised £2.34bn from its auction of 4G mobile spectrum to Everything Everywhere, Hutchison 3G UK, Telefonica, Vodafone and Niche Spectrum Ventures, a BT subsidiary, to provide superfast download speeds for smartphone and tablet computer users.

Ofcom is selling two bands 800MHz and 2.6GHz. The lower-frequency 800 band will cost more because its longer wavelengths carry signals about 10 times further, making it ideal for extending coverage into rural areas to provide a truly national service.

Chris Hicks, head of telecoms at Fisher German, believes this could create opportunities for landlords of mobile phone masts to secure a financial bonus.

He said: “This announcement means 4G networks will be able to extend the broadband coverage they offer throughout the UK which is particularly welcome for those where coverage is badly served at the moment through mobile broadband.

“It means landlords with mobile phone mast leases need to be aware of requests from the operators to alter, upgrade and add equipment to existing sites to facilitate 4G as more often than not those rights will not exist.

“Such requests may allow leases to be renegotiated resulting in one-off additional premium payments, a variation of the rent in the landlords favour and a variation of lease terms.

“Some leases simply do not permit 4G use of sites and are restricted to 2G and 3G uses only. Landlords should consider very careful what the use of a telecommunications lease actually permits.

“This may present landlords with great opportunities to renegotiate lease terms and rent in their favour but, as always in these kinds of situations, it is best to seek professional advice.”