A new report from operator trade body Mobile UK and business campaign group London First outlines practical steps London can take to tackle the ‘unique’ challenges it faces in rolling out 5G infrastructure.
If London’s politicians, boroughs and operators fail to act, they could lose out to other areas on infrastructure investment, the report warns.
Roadmap to 5G
The Roadmap to 5G: Achieving world class digital connectivity in London paper notes that London is one of the most complex places in the UK to deploy infrastructure – particularly due to the number of tall buildings and narrow streets. The amount of glass and steel used in buildings is also an issue, as these materials can block or weaken mobile signals.
Further, the report highlights the high costs of deploying new infrastructure in London, putting the expense down to both ‘red tape’ and the fragmented nature of governance in London. The paper estimates that civil costs, such as planning regulations, make up as much as 85% of the costs of rolling out digital infrastructure in London. This is exacerbated by the fact that each of London’s 32 boroughs may interpret the rules differently. Investment costs can vary widely between boroughs and even street to street, the report notes.
If stakeholders in London don’t acknowledge and address these issues, they may find that other areas are prioritised for infrastructure. Norfolk, for example, has pledged to make land and property available under the new Electronic Communications Code. The Connecting Cambridgeshire initiative has been created to identify and tackle obstacles to mobile deployment.
Mobile UK and London First highlight the need for a more ‘joined up’ approach, with input from all the relevant stakeholders. They say London should prioritise political leadership, standardisation, and the use of public assets for digital infrastructure.
Gareth Elliot, Head of Policy and Communications, Mobile UK, commented: “Building mobile networks is not the sole responsibility of the mobile network operators. Yes, they build the physical networks but to do so it requires a high level of partnership between many stakeholders. This is all the more important as coverage expectations increase and 5G is expected to be more complex to build than the last.”
Read the full report here