» ISP News » 

Disputes Over UK Street Furniture Risk Slowing 5G Mobile Rollout UPDATE

Monday, May 20th, 2019 (8:39 am) - Score 3,067
5g and mast uk tower microwave mmwave

The next generation of multi-Gigabit speed capable 5G based mobile broadband networks could be facing yet another challenge due to a backlog of disputes over access to UK street furniture (lampposts etc.). Related deployments in some parts of the country are allegedly being delayed by as much as 2 years.

It’s not unfair to say that the tentative roll-out of 5G mobile networks in the United Kingdom has already faced a number of significant challenges and that’s before it’s even fully begun. So far we’ve had the Government’s widely reported, albeit not yet officially confirmed, move to ban Chinese technology giant Huawei from core networks (here). Not to mention disputes over Ofcom’s future spectrum auctions and coverage obligations (here).

At the end of last year we also warned that disputes over wayleave (access) agreements and related rents for building and land access were threatening to become toxic (here). Now a related problem appears to have reared its head after The Guardian revealed that the battle for control of street furniture, which is useful for installing small cells that can help mobile operators to expand their coverage, is threatening to delay the 5G rollout.

In urban areas 5G requires a denser network architecture than 4G in order to deliver its best performance. As a result mobile operators (EE, Three UK, O2 and Vodafone) are all hunting for places to install their kit and public street furniture, such as lampposts (also used for CCTV, WiFi Hotspots, EV car chargers and environmental sensors etc.), are an obvious target.

However cash-strapped councils and landlords are well aware of this demand. Some mobile operators now feel as if those groups are seeking to charge too much for the use of street furniture. BT has also raised concerns over the fairness of existing concession agreements (here) and are arguing for fair access.

The reformed Electronic Communications Code (here) was supposed to resolve such issues, not least by making it easier and cheaper for telecoms operators to access land / property in order to help them build new networks. The new ECC also introduced a tribunal system to help tackle disputes but this has since become so backlogged that new cases may not even get a hearing date until sometime next year.

Theo Blackwell, London’s Chief Digital Officer, said:

“Whilst the intention of the code was to make it easier and cheaper for MNOs to roll out infrastructure, by not providing guidance nor seeking compromise, the government have in fact delayed deployments by two years, whilst the new code is being tested in the courts.”

Interestingly the report notes that sparsely populated rural areas have the opposite problem and are struggling to attract mobile operators to use their own street furniture, although this is hardly a surprise. Installing small cells on top of lampposts (may require a fibre optic feed too) isn’t cheap and thus the economics only make sense in dense urban areas with a lot of nearby foot traffic (the cells have very limited coverage).

In rural areas it would be far more effective to allow the use of taller masts, which could deliver better coverage and is already fairly common around much of the rest of Europe (50 metres). However, despite allowing huge wind turbines, the law still tends to limit the height of masts to 25 metres in England (even less in other parts of the UK).

One other issue here is that you can only fit so much kit on top of a lamppost before it ruins the cosmetic appeal, which becomes more of an issue when you have several interested parties fighting over the same space. Network / infrastructure sharing agreements could help to resolve some of this, if they can be agreed, but as above that’s only one part of the challenge.

Mobile operators recently made a number of proposals for how the UK’s local authorities could help to support their rollout of 5G services (here).

UPDATE 21st May 2019

The Government, which reaffirms that disagreements over interpretation of the legislation are a matter for the courts, has kindly provided us with a comment.

A DCMS Spokesperson said:

“We are working with local authorities and industry to help facilitate mutually acceptable agreements regarding the use of local authority assets for the deployment of 5G.

The Upper Tribunal has recently made a series of rulings that will help settle the market, and we are pleased that deals are now being completed under the new Code.”

Over the longer term they still expect the reformed ECC to provide a strong framework that will support the deployment of future digital infrastructure.

Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. Avatar Larry

    Ban it dangerous to planes,dogs,humans this create deadly risk of high radiation.

  2. Avatar dragoneast

    Essex CC as far as I’m aware still won’t allow any attachment of mobile phone equipment to street furniture. They never have. Neighbouring counties don’t have any problem.

    It seems to be the British disease. We all live in our own coccoons, making up a story for whatever we want to believe; and not listening to or trying to understand anyone else’s point of view. We hate science, and routinely dismiss experts. Rather, we are our own experts. So often, reasoned debate with the British is impossible. We’re too darned lazy. And yes, I suspect Mark (site proprietor) and I show we are as guilty of it as everyone else. Hence this addiction to cheap jibes. Blind prejudice is the easy route to instant popularity with those people who agree with us; the only people frankly that we’re interested in!

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      Not all councils, county or otherwise, actually own all of the street furniture. For example I can think of some that have sold and leased back their lampposts. In such cases a third party, probably a finance company, will decide what can be attached.

    • Avatar Phil

      I personally think 5G is a waste of time, certainly where the millimetre wave is concerned requiring an antenna every 10 metres or so, as who is going to benefit from it? It’s a bit like G.Fast. Millimetre wave will only be in densely packed urban areas where its commercially viable, and in that case everyone is already getting pretty good 4G speeds out and about, and more than likely pretty fast speeds at their own home. Move a couple of metres further away from such a lamp-post and you’ve lost the signal and just falling back to either 4G or 5G from a traditional cell mast with little speed advantage.

      Millimetre wave is all about justifying the marketing and headline download speeds. I predict we will see next to no use of millimetre wave as there is no use case for it, and it will be too expensive, too unreliable and too difficult to install except for a few “headline” locations. I also suspect most 5G mobiles will come without support for millimetre wave frequencies.

    • Avatar Joe

      5G is ideal for urban streets with massive footfalls. The kind of Leicester Sq/ Oxford Street

    • Avatar Phil

      Hi @Joe

      “5G is ideal for urban streets with massive footfalls. The kind of Leicester Sq/ Oxford Street”

      But millimetre wave is the least ideal way of transmitting in such a location. Get a bus go by and you’ve lost your signal, so it needs small cells on both sides of the street, even then a crowded street of people could be causing the signal to come and go.

      And where is the use case? Why would anyone need 500Mbits/sec or more data-rates on their mobile phone when in a packed busy street? They spin the PR with things like “download a 4K movie” in X seconds rather than minutes, but we don’t download movies, we stream them, so it just needs to be fast enough to keep up with the film.

      Time will tell, but millimetre wave is nothing more than marketing, it will be found to be completely impractical.

    • Avatar Joe

      LS doesn’t have any busses so 🙂 but plenty of ppl on their phones. OS does but easy enough to aim the signal down both sides.

  3. Avatar kaptainkandikat

    I am of the understanding that the higher the frequency, this cripples radio waves from travelling through solid objects.

    Since 5G is just a radio signal, why does it responds in this way? Hell, I even heard that rainwater will stop it from working…..

    the only thing deadly about 5G? dumbos that spread FUD about it.

    • Depends what you mean by “higher frequency” (the word cripple isn’t fair for all of them, but all bands have their limits). The good thing about 5G is that operators’ can harness a very wide range of frequencies, where as previously they were limited to a specific set of bands. However in general it is correct to say that higher ‘mobile’ frequencies become more susceptible to interference (lower range) and struggle to penetrate into homes etc.

      You can mitigate some of these things by tweaking power and antenna design, although ultimately the best speeds from 5G do require a much denser network design in order to ensure the best performance and good coverage.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £19.95 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo Code: HYPER20
  • Plusnet £21.99 (*35.98)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £50 Reward Card
  • SSE £22.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • TalkTalk £22.95 (*29.95)
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2717)
  2. FTTP (2605)
  3. FTTC (1756)
  4. Building Digital UK (1701)
  5. Politics (1606)
  6. Openreach (1565)
  7. Business (1389)
  8. FTTH (1312)
  9. Statistics (1207)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1177)
  11. Fibre Optic (1044)
  12. 4G (1013)
  13. Wireless Internet (997)
  14. Ofcom Regulation (993)
  15. Virgin Media (977)
  16. EE (671)
  17. Sky Broadband (655)
  18. TalkTalk (644)
  19. Vodafone (641)
  20. 5G (472)
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact