Mobile network operators will get easier access to lampposts, bus shelters and other street furniture to speed up the roll out of next-generation, ultrafast 5G technology under a new government trial.
The newly launched £4 million competition will explore ways to make it simpler and quicker for mobile companies to use publicly-owned buildings and curbside infrastructure - such as CCTV poles and traffic signals - to host 5G radio equipment.
Street furniture and buildings can be used to host 5G network equipment more cheaply, quickly and with less visual impact compared with traditional phone masts. However, 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.
To tackle this, the government is investing in piloting the latest innovations in digital asset management platforms. This will enable local councils to more easily share data mobile companies need to accelerate their roll out plans and deliver the revolutionary benefits of 5G to people and businesses.
The move is also expected to broaden the role that mobile technology plays in wider society by enabling thousands more ‘smart’ devices on the street which connect to the internet and each other.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman 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.”