Connecting the UK starts locally

Digital connectivity is now considered an essential element of modern society and has become ever more critical since the pandemic. We are more frequently conducting our day-to-day activities through ‘on the go’ connectivity, so ensuring our mobile network is the best it can be is crucial.  The Government has set a target of delivering 5G to the majority of the population by 2027 and extending 4G to more rural areas.  The process of proposing changes to the Electronic Communications Code and planning laws, which will help speed up network deployment and increase coverage across the country, is currently underway.

A new report by property consulting firm Cluttons, developed in partnership with YouGov, revealed that the Government and consumers see connectivity as vital to levelling up the country and its future prospects.  There is significant public support for the installation of infrastructure to enable better digital connectivity, with a large majority of consumers and local councillors supportive of further network rollout in their local areas to drive social and economic advancement.

One key finding of Cluttons’ report is that most MPs (82% of those surveyed) agree that future digital connectivity should be part of local development plans, viewing it as a transformative enabler for improving the way public services are delivered and accessed in local communities.  This aligns with the Government’s call on local authorities to make supporting connectivity rollout a priority.  With encouragement from central government, some councils are taking a more proactive approach to connectivity, with dedicated digital champions and digital teams who are on hand to help with the process.  Another positive step has been the Government’s recently launched new plans to help simplify local authority processes for telecoms operators.  Operators will get easier access to public buildings and infrastructure such as streetlights and bus stops.  Innovative digital asset management platforms are also being trialled to enable local councils to easily share data which mobile operators need to accelerate their rollout plans, including a site’s location, physical dimensions, and access to a power source.  All these enhancements are expected to help boost the rollout of 4G and 5G across the country.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Everyone gets frustrated when their mobile signal is poor, particularly when patchy coverage holds up important work and social calls and makes it harder to do stuff online. That is why we are determined to get the UK the connectivity it needs by rolling out better mobile coverage as quickly as possible.”

These new plans and trials will provide positive examples of how local authorities can use technology to speed up processes and collaborate effectively with mobile operators.  MBNL look forward to more successful collaborations with local authorities to deliver better connectivity for the UK.

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