New consultation outlines efficiency proposals and regulatory changes
The government has outlined a number of proposals to assist the rollout of mobile broadband in the UK in a new consultation.
The six-week consultation will end on 14 June and details proposed changes designed to speed up the regulatory process while safeguarding both protected areas and the environment.
Efficiency measures such as the sharing of masts between operators will be encouraged, while the government will also make it easier to mount antennas on walls so that networks can make the most of existing buildings and structures to minimise the need for new ground masts.
Mobile broadband proposals
The proposals also detail a number of ways to make infrastructure more aesthetically pleasing. Rules on masts on buildings would be relaxed so that operators can install antenna further away from the edge of the building, while there are also provisions for small wall-mounted ‘microcell’ antennas, which offer a fast way to add network capacity with minimum visual impact.
“These proposed technical changes allow the new technology needed for improving mobile coverage and speeds for local residents to be installed in a way that ensures better use is made of existing infrastructure,” said planning minister Nick Boles.
The government says that demand for mobile broadband services is growing among businesses and consumers, and estimates that demand for mobile capacity will grow 80-fold by 2030.
It has pledged more than £1 billion in public money to transform broadband in the UK in initiatives like the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme and has allocated £150 million for mobile broadband.
Government broadband targets
The recent Ofcom 4G auction of spectrum only generated £2.31 billion for the government, less than the £3.5 billion it was hoping for, but the Coalition estimates the use of the spectrum will generate £50 million for the economy.
“Broadband is essential for driving economic growth and we are transforming broadband in the UK by tripling speeds and getting 10 million more homes and business online, “said communications minister Ed Vaizey. “We know that broadband is a key plank of business infrastructure and essential to creating jobs.
“Demand for mobile broadband in particular is increasing at a phenomenal rate. We need to ensure that businesses and individuals can access this as soon as possible, if its full potential as driver for growth is to be realised.”
The government has promised the UK would have the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015, with 90 percent of households receiving speeds of 24mbps. Last month, culture secretary Maria Miller insisted it would meet those targets, despite a European Commission investigation into the BDUK procurement process, after BT was left as the only bidder for funding under the scheme.
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