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Gov Starts GBP4m Trial to Build 5G via More UK Street Furniture

Thursday, September 9th, 2021 (10:51 am) - Score 1,464
lamp post

The UK Government has today invested £4m to support a new 2-year project (DCIA) trial, which aims to make it easier for network operators to access and deploy 5G mobile (mobile broadband) infrastructure on street furniture and public buildings, such as CCTV poles, traffic lights, lampposts, bus shelters and so forth.

At present the deployment of mobile infrastructure on public street furniture, usually via small cells with limited local coverage (e.g. useful for covering busy areas, such as shopping malls or tourist attractions), is already quite common in the United Kingdom. But securing such access often requires specific negotiations and concession agreements with multiple local authorities, which may also be exclusive to a particular operator (in fairness, you can only fit so much kit on some furniture before the space runs out).

On top of that, 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 (i.e. any cells you deploy still need data capacity and power, which may be difficult to access in some locations).

In response, the Government has today launched the Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) project to explore if improvements can be made to make accessing street furniture easier. The focus will be on improving the management of such infrastructure and related contracts, as well as setting new standards for both.

Matt Warman, UK Digital Infrastructure Minister, said:

“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.

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.”

Hamish MacLeod, Mobile UK, said:

“Mobile networks are critical to the UK’s economic recovery yet deploying infrastructure on public assets has often proved difficult.

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.”

The deadline for applications to this competition is 18th November, with work on the accepted pilots then expected to start in January 2022 and run until December 2022 (subject to individual/specific circumstances, the government said they may accept extending the end date of some pilots to March 2023).

Objectives of the Pilot competition

— Local or Regional Authority led project teams will work with digital asset management platform providers and wireless infrastructure providers to test the process required to digitise elements of the site acquisition process.

— Pilots will build evidence of whether the use of a digital asset management platform enables more efficient industry access to public sector assets and whether it encourages deployment of infrastructure in the region.

— The potential commercial models and economic viability of running a digital asset management platform from a Local or Regional Authority will be tested, including a clear understanding of business and operational models that recognise constraints in affordability for both public sector asset owners and telecommunication infrastructure providers.

— Increase the development of Regional Authority and Local Authority expertise and reach an understanding of what resource is required to expedite telecommunications infrastructure deployment. This should include an assessment of the resources required internally to support the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure through this pilot including asset data discovery and management, whether provided in-house or in-sourced from a rich ecosystem of professional service providers (preferably from but not exclusive to local SMEs).

— Demonstrate the application of a digital asset management mapping platform across a diverse range of geographies (urban, suburban, rural) and socio-economic profiles (industrial, agricultural, leisure, business or residential etc).

— Demonstrate that the platform has been tested with multiple asset types (e.g. local authority owned land, buildings and streetlights).

This is an open competition, requiring submission from Regional or Local Authorities, with DCMS funding available for activity taking place in the UK. All of this should complement the Government’s ongoing efforts to encourage more infrastructure sharing, such as via their recent £4m Fibre in Water project trial (here).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    Another Governmental “Look at us! Aren’t we doing great!” Sentiment, whilst throwing loose pocket change at a problem then……..really, these people haven’t got a clue what’s really required.

    The UK doesn’t need a £4m trial, It needs a £4B investment in “proper” 5g infrastructure for Stand alone 5g, not the pretend NSA 5g the carriers are playing with that’s as good as 4G+ should be already.

    1. Pragmatist says:

      The only places the Johnson smash and grab operation… sorry… administration ‘invests’ billions, is in the linings of their chums, donor and own pockets.

  2. Essa says:

    There is an interesting aspect of this which I been thinking of. The government sold and still in the process to sell the frequency’s and the operators are paying big buck for this. If they would reinvest 10% of the income to expand the network it would good for the wider society.

    When look at most suppliers (Three, O2, Vodafone and EE) I can say that none of them provide decent coverage sufficient enough for 2021. At very local level you get good connection, as soon as you move around it goes down in speed considerably.

    When I lived back in Sweden and revisited few years ago, the coverage was truly amazing, the speed I got was 10x the comparable to UK speed on the move. If they can do it, so can UK!

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