A £4 million competition, the Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator project, has been launched by the UK government to explore ways to make it simpler and quicker for mobile companies to use publicly owned buildings and curb side infrastructure, such as CCTV poles and traffic signals, to host 5G radio equipment. Mobile network operators will now get easier access to lampposts, bus shelters and other street furniture to speed up the roll out of 5G networks, under the new government trial.
“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,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman. “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,” he continued.
Cheaper 5G network equipment hosting
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. Now, in a response to this common hurdle, the government will invest in piloting the latest innovations in digital asset management platforms. This will enable local councils to share data mobile companies need to accelerate their roll out plans and deliver the revolutionary benefits of 5G to people and businesses.
“Mobile networks are critical to the UK’s economic recovery yet deploying infrastructure on public assets has often proved difficult,” said Hamish MacLeod, Mobile UK. “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. We are committed to working closely with the DCMS and Local Authorities on this project,” MacLeod continued.
Accelerating the UK's 5G rollout
The Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator project is the latest in a number of measures announced by the government to level up the UK by breaking down the barriers holding back the UK’s 5G rollout. These include plans to trial running fibre broadband cables through drinking water pipes.
The UK government has also announced it is considering giving broadband firms access to more than a million kilometres of underground utility ducts to boost the rollout of full fibre broadband - including electricity, gas and sewer networks. It has said, in a press statement, that it will soon respond to a consultation on changing regulations to make infrastructure sharing easier.