The government have laid out new laws, which look to enhance its 5G roll out and remove signal blackholes across the country.
The new laws will put tougher legal duties on operators to minimise the visual impact of network equipment, particularly in protected areas such as national parks and conservation areas.
However, it will equally give network operators more freedom to make new and existing phone masts up to five metres taller and two metres wider than the current rules permit.
The aim is to boost the range of masts, create room for the extra equipment needed for faster networks and make it easier for operators to share infrastructure.
Data from telcos engineering firm Global Wireless Solution revealed that three of the four major operators have doubled their nationwide 5G coverage over the past year, with EE’s 5G coverage increasing approximately 120 per cent, O2’s 260 per cent and Three’s 150 per cent.
Crucially, mobile operators will still need to obtain agreement from the landowner before building any new infrastructure, and all new ground-based masts will also need to be approved by local authorities which will continue to have a say on where they are placed and their appearance.
The move will help deliver the government-led £1bn Shared Rural Network being built to eliminate 4G mobile ‘not spots’ in the countryside and enable access to 5G tech sooner.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said that she understood the “frustration” felt when having no signal in some parts of the country and said:
Phone users across the country will benefit – whether they are in a city, village or on the road – and tighter rules on the visual impact of new infrastructure will ensure our cherished countryside is protected.
The reforms are also seen as a key part of the government’s overall level up policy.
Dr Paul Carter, chief executive of telcos engineering firm Global Wireless Solutions told City A.M. that today’s changes should eb welcomed “with open arms”.
“Ending rural not spots and bringing everyone, not just those who live in our urban centres, into the fold of next generation digital connectivity is a hugely important aspiration for the country.”
“The ability of operators to build masts taller and add to existing infrastructure and street furniture with ease will ensure the promise of widespread 5G can be met in even quicker time. The benefits it will bring to a population increasingly reliant on strong digital connectivity for all aspects of their lives cannot be understated. Both our work lives and our social lives are all taking place online meaning it is more important than ever that access to high quality connectivity is shared equally.”