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DCMS launches new £30m 5G rural connectivity competition

Jasper Hart
August 27, 2019

Additional consultation on improving mobile connectivity runs for 10 weeks

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has launched a £30 million competition across the UK that will see up to 10 rural locations picked to run trials of 5G applications.

It is hoped that the trials as part of the 5G Rural Connected Communities Project will help stimulate commercial investment in 5G and drive business growth. The trials will be funded for up to two years.

Nicky 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.”

The announcement comes alongside the government’s launch of an open consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules to improve rural mobile coverage.

The consultation will run for 10 weeks from today and will include proposals on changing permitted mast heights and the sharing of mast sharing, allowing existing ground-based masts to be strengthened without prior approval, deployment of radio equipment cabinets on protected and unprotected land without prior approval, and allowing building-based masts nearer to roads to support 5G and increase mobile coverage.

Another part of the consultation will see the government seek views on what industry can offer to mitigate the impact of new infrastructure, including the removal of redundant sites. Minister of state for houseing and planning Esther McVey said: “We’re committed to delivering the homes people across the country need, and that includes delivering the right infrastructure such as broadband connectivity and good mobile coverage. There is nothing more frustrating than moving into your new home to find signal is poor.

“That’s why we are proposing to simplify planning rules for installing the latest mobile technology – helping to extend coverage and banish more of those signal blackspots, particularly for those living in rural areas.”

Mobile UK director Hamish MacLeod added: “The current planning system does not support the fast, efficient rollout of 5G technology that is vital for the UK’s digital economy. We welcome the Government looking at simplifying planning processes to deliver better connectivity, and we stand ready to work in partnership to ensure these much-needed reforms happen as quickly as possible.”

Applications for the competition are open until October 25.

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