Bolton Council Take Enforcement Action Against IX Wireless Broadband Poles

The Bolton Council in Greater Manchester (England) has revealed that they’re taking enforcement action against broadband network operator IX Wireless, which is accused of installing antenna equipment on their pole (mast) erections without consultation or consent from the local authority.

Just to recap. IX Wireless is currently building a new UK fibre-fed fixed wireless access (FWA) network across parts of the UK using WiFi based technology (e.g. Accrington, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Fleetwood etc.), which is supported by retail broadband ISP 6Gi (NOT related to 6G mobile technology).

The operator is, however, no stranger to attracting complaints from locals about their large metal poles (here) and has previously also run into the odd issue related to unauthorised digital infrastructure (here). Not to mention the banning of several 6Gi adverts for misleading promotions (here and here).

However, in this case, Bolton Council are accusing the operator of installing an antenna on the poles “without consent“. Most broadband poles are typically built using Permitted Development (PD) rights and thus don’t have to go through the usual planning process, which means only the most minimal of prior notice is required (e.g. sticking a note to a lamp post). But the council states that planning consent is needed if an operator installs antennae on the poles.

A Spokesperson for the council said (Manchester Evening News):

“IX Wireless erected the poles as permitted development and then later installed the antenna, without consultation or consent from the council. Prior approval cannot retrospectively be applied for, so that has left the council with enforcement as the only option to intervene.

I confirm that the enforcement process is presently underway, and we have notified IX Wireless. I also confirm that all new infrastructure that utilises an antenna will be subject to prior approval, and to date the council has not received any applications from IX Wireless.”

In response, a spokesperson for IXW said they’re investigating the matter, which is understood to reflect the “placing of a few poles“. “As with all our infrastructure investment across the region, we actively engage with the local authorities who are notified of the work that is taking place. By doing so this has helped us to improve our service and also speak to local officials over any concerns that may be raised. We have a good working relationship with the Bolton Council and have been engaging with the authority during weekly meetings,” added the operator.

The exact specifics of the equipment in question remains unclear. The Revised Cabinet and Pole Siting Code of Practice Nov 2016 does state that its rules apply to cabinets and poles “utilised by fixed line Code Operators, not including masts utilised by mobile Code Operators” (the latter falls under a separate code of practice). But IXW’s network is designed to be a fixed wireless service, not a mobile one.

Credits to Thinkbroadband for spotting this news, which had flown under our radar.

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