£30 million for 5G rollout in rural areas

A new competition has been launched to test groundbreaking 5G applications in rural areas, alongside proposed planning reforms to improve and extend mobile coverage.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan, who launched the £30 million UK-wide competition to spark a tech revolution in countryside communities, announced that up to ten rural locations will be chosen to run innovative trials of 5G applications and stimulate commercial investment in 5G technology which offers mobile speeds 10 to 20 times faster than previous generations.

The Rural Connected Communities competition is the latest wave of £200 million funding to pioneer 5G testbeds across the country and deliver the benefits of the highest speeds of mobile connectivity available.

The accompanying consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules to improve rural mobile coverage could look at changing the permitted height of new masts to deliver better mobile coverage, promoting mast sharing and minimising the need to build more infrastructure. It could also see moves to allow building-based masts nearer to roads to support 5G and increase mobile coverage.

Morgan said: “The British countryside has always been a hotbed of pioneering industries and we’re making sure our rural communities aren’t left behind in the digital age. We’re investing millions so the whole country can grasp the opportunities and economic benefits of next generation 5G technology. In modern Britain people expect to be connected wherever they are. And so we’re committed to securing widespread mobile coverage and must make sure we have the right planning laws to give the UK the best infrastructure to stay ahead.”