A new government trial will give mobile network operators easier access to lampposts, bus shelters and other street furniture to speed up the roll out of the UK’s 5G networks.
A £4 million competition launched today will explore ways to make it simpler and quicker for mobile companies to use publicly-owned buildings and curbside infrastructure to host 5G radio equipment.
Street furniture and buildings can be used to host 5G network equipment more cheaply, quickly and with less visual impact compared with traditional phone masts. However, network operators often find it difficult to acquire the information needed to verify that a structure is suitable, such as its location, physical dimensions, proximity to the street or access to a power source.
The government will pilot digital asset management platforms to help local councils to more easily share the data mobile companies need to accelerate their 5G roll out plans.
Matt Warman, the digital infrastructure minister, explained, “The lampposts lining our streets have huge potential to accelerate the roll out of 5G and reduce the need to build new masts, but right now getting access to this infrastructure can be tricky.
“That’s why we are investing millions to help local councils and mobile companies work together more effectively to bring people the incredible benefits of faster connectivity as we level up the UK.”
Hamish MacLeod, director, Mobile UK, added, “Mobile networks are critical to the UK’s economic recovery yet deploying infrastructure on public assets has often proved difficult. We welcome this competition aimed at breaking down these barriers and accelerating investment in 5G by piloting new digital platforms that bring together public bodies and mobile operators to make public-owned infrastructure more easily accessible.”
The Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) project is the latest in a number of measures announced by the government to assist with the roll out of next generation connectivity infrastructure. Last month, the government announced plans to trial running fibre broadband cables through drinking water pipes.