What goes on behind the National Planning scene

  • The UK Government has proposed new planning laws in England to help mobile operators extend and enhance mobile coverage
  • The new rules will enable operators to connect countryside to 4G quicker and accelerate 5G roll out
  • The new laws will make the sharing of infrastructure between operators easier
  • Law changes will reduce need for new phone masts and boost signal on roads
  • Protection built into changes to preserve rural scenery

The industry has welcomed the Government’s proposed changes to planning laws which will further assist the rollout of the Shared Rural Network, which will limit partial not-spots and extend rural coverage, and further enhance the operators’ ability to extend 4G coverage and deploy next-generation 5G networks.

The reforms promote the sharing of infrastructure by multiple operators by taking into account changes in mobile technologies and the passive infrastructure that host mobile equipment.   The new planning laws will mean fewer phone masts will be needed overall to level up the country with improved 4G and 5G mobile coverage as telecoms firms will be able to upgrade existing infrastructure over building new masts.  In doing so, mobile operators will be able to extend mobile coverage and capacity further and faster across the whole of the UK, which will also benefit the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and attempts to reduce digital exclusion.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said:

“We’ve all felt the no bar blues when struggling to get a phone signal, so we’re changing the law to help network companies wipe out mobile ‘not spots’ and dial up the roll out of next-generation 5G.  Phone users across the country will benefit from this – whether in a city, village or travelling along our roads – and tighter rules on the visual impact of new infrastructure will ensure our cherished countryside is protected.”

Hamish MacLeod, Chief Executive of Mobile UK, said:

“Building the mobile networks that provide the connectivity on which we all rely is both complex and challenging. The industry welcomes the reforms to planning regulations proposed by the Government. They will enable operators to deploy mobile networks more efficiently to meet ambitious targets for rural and urban coverage, including next-generation 5G.”

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