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Full Fibre Company asking me to sign wayleave agreement

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Hi - there is a company called Freedom Fibre who is rolling out full fibre broadband in my area.

They have sent me a letter asking me to sign a wayleave agreement.  I'm not really clear if this is just routine, or if this is something where I should get legal advice?

The agreement appears to state that they can access my property to install and maintain "cabling and all associated fixtures and fittings" and that "this may require some alterations works to your property in order to make installation of the equipment possible".

Also, there is no provision for me to cancel the agreement in future, and also it says "where required, we will repair any damage that we are solely responsible for" but I wonder if this would include damage caused by their subcontractor as I suspect they would be using sub-contractors for the work.

I also don't remember every signing any such agreement for other devices on my property like the gas meter, electric meter, copper phone lines and so on.

I am actually quite keen to get full fibre, but as far as I can tell this agreement effectively gives them the right to dig up my drive if they feel like it to run the cables underground without consulting me any further (although I doubt they would do that as I'm sure it would be more expensive).

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  • Neil_Jones
    Neil_Jones Posts: 8,987 Forumite
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    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-access-agreements - "Wayleaves are commonly used for the deployment of fixed-line broadband infrastructure"

    With regards to Freedom Fibre, they're effectively TalkTalk in new packaging  - https://www.freedomfibre.com/pricing-ordering
     - indeed https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/09/broadband-isp-talktalk-take-significant-stake-in-freedom-fibre.html suggests Talktalk took "significant control" of the venture last year.

    Make of that what you will.

    But yes it makes sense you won't be able to cancel the wayleave because otherwise it would effectively involve ripping it all out again at a later date, so once its in, it stays in and access granted to access it if a fault appears.

    The comparison against copper phone lines isn't the same thing - they used to run overhead from a corner of the property to telegraph poles, so you don't need a wayleave for that.   The meters  are owned by your supplier (electric is, believe gas meters are owned by the local distributor), and wayleaves are possible for them, typically when there is a need to set up a bloody great pylon in the back garden:

    However typically IIRC the utility supplies (gas, water, electric) and pipes are installed before a new build so that becomes relatively moot anyway - indeed the gas network is the property of National Grid wherever the pipes go.
  • Pat38493
    Pat38493 Posts: 2,727 Forumite
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    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-access-agreements - "Wayleaves are commonly used for the deployment of fixed-line broadband infrastructure"

    With regards to Freedom Fibre, they're effectively TalkTalk in new packaging  - https://www.freedomfibre.com/pricing-ordering
     - indeed https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/09/broadband-isp-talktalk-take-significant-stake-in-freedom-fibre.html suggests Talktalk took "significant control" of the venture last year.

    Make of that what you will.

    But yes it makes sense you won't be able to cancel the wayleave because otherwise it would effectively involve ripping it all out again at a later date, so once its in, it stays in and access granted to access it if a fault appears.

    The comparison against copper phone lines isn't the same thing - they used to run overhead from a corner of the property to telegraph poles, so you don't need a wayleave for that.   The meters  are owned by your supplier (electric is, believe gas meters are owned by the local distributor), and wayleaves are possible for them, typically when there is a need to set up a bloody great pylon in the back garden:

    However typically IIRC the utility supplies (gas, water, electric) and pipes are installed before a new build so that becomes relatively moot anyway - indeed the gas network is the property of National Grid wherever the pipes go.
    The bit I don't get is that the letter implies that the wayleave is needed just to service my own property with full fibre broadband.  I asked a couple of my neighbours and they said that so far they have not received any similar letter.

    The few points I've read about wayleave leads me to believe that a wayleave is normally needed if they want to put equipment or cables on your property that will be used not only to service your individual property, but also other people's property as well.  I'm not clear why they would need a wayleave in order to install the service only for me - they could just give me a contract to sign to do the work.

    Also - they may not be aware that there is a patch of driveway outside my drive that is jointly owned with 2 neighbours so if they want to do something to that they may need permission from all of us (which will be tricky because we jointly paid to have it all re-surfaced only about 2 years ago).

    All our copper cables are underground to the whole street.  I was also under the impression that they can somehow use the existing ducts to run the fibre cables through those - I've seen photos that this is how Openreach does it.

    They have already announced where in the village they want to put new telegraph poles and my street is not one of them.

    The other thing is that given the position of my property on the street and in relation to where I think the phone cables are running to all the houses, I'm not at all clear why they would need to install anything on my property other than what's needed just for my own personal service, which in my view shouldn't require a wayleave agreement.

    Therefore I will need to call them to ask what they want to do and why.
  • prowla
    prowla Posts: 13,298 Forumite
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    It's a common requirement in offices, where the cabling needs to go through shared areas (eg. lift shafts).
    I'm not sure why it would be needed inside a house or through the garden of a residential property, though.
    If they are thinking of running communal trunking through your garden, then that could impose restrictions on how you might do developments on your property in the future, eg. paving, extensions, garage, trees; I'd be looking to see precisely what they are proposing.
    I have BT and Virgin connections to my house and I don't recall anything special relating to them other than there being a channel under my lawn at some point.
  • Pat38493
    Pat38493 Posts: 2,727 Forumite
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    prowla said:
    It's a common requirement in offices, where the cabling needs to go through shared areas (eg. lift shafts).
    I'm not sure why it would be needed inside a house or through the garden of a residential property, though.
    If they are thinking of running communal trunking through your garden, then that could impose restrictions on how you might do developments on your property in the future, eg. paving, extensions, garage, trees; I'd be looking to see precisely what they are proposing.
    I have BT and Virgin connections to my house and I don't recall anything special relating to them other than there being a channel under my lawn at some point.
    Well outside my drive there is a common patch of driveway that leads to my house and my two neighbours and I cannot remember how the ownership of that land is structured - whether it's completely shared or split into 3 theoretical patches I can't recall.

    Also as I said above, my impression was that they normally try to use the existing BT copper wire ducting and run some kind of magic machine with the cables attached through the existing ducts, so I don't know why they need a wayleave for that.

    I have called the person who wrote to me and left a voicemail so we will see.


  • littleboo
    littleboo Posts: 1,526 Forumite
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    If a network builder wants to use Openreach ducts, they have to pay, Freedom Fibre may have chosen not to pay, or its possible that the ducts in the area are full, or collapsed.
  • Pat38493
    Pat38493 Posts: 2,727 Forumite
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    littleboo said:
    If a network builder wants to use Openreach ducts, they have to pay, Freedom Fibre may have chosen not to pay, or its possible that the ducts in the area are full, or collapsed.
    They called me and they are saying that because they are not the same company as the service provider (who is Talk Talk), every customer who actually takes the service will need to sign a wayleave agreement.  They said the reason I have received this now is because I registered an interest in the service on their webiste, but all customers who actually take the service would be asked to sign one.

    They also said that they prefer to run wiring over ground where possible - I think they will have a problem there because I can't really imaging how they are going to run cables from where I believe the nearest access point is to get to my house, they would need to run cables over a shared owned driveway or a garden of another neighbour.  They said that this would be assessed on the installation day and if necessary they would need to get further agreements from neighbours etc before the work could continue.

    They also said that if ducting work was needed they would have to reschedule as well (presumably also because of the cost point you mention above although I was not aware of that during the conversation - do they have to pay an ongoing fee for that or just a one off charge to Openreach?)

    I also assume they must be using a lot of Openreach ducts and lines all over the place - in fact they boast about it on their web site, so I guess they already have to pay for that too. 

    I am also not clear about how this works from a future competition point of view - this company has got grants and help from UKGov to install the service, and I guess this gives a monopoly to Talk Talk on my full fibre service which could create an issue in future unless there is some future point at which they have to open the infrastructure up to other providers. 
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