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Mobile UK Budget Submission: Time to Prioritise Mobile Infrastructure

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget on 29th October 2018, Mobile UK is calling on the Chancellor to further prioritise mobile infrastructure by ensuring fiscal parity towards the deployment of all telecommunications equipment. The Government has correctly identified fibre roll-out as a priority, but with the imminent roll-out of 5G networks and the continued expansion of the 4G network, this should not be in place of opportunities to make mobile roll-out more cost-effective as well. After all, if the Government’s ambition is to be a leading digital economy with world-class connectivity, it is equally important to ensure the economic foundations for mobile infrastructure are prepared today.

Mobile UK urges the Chancellor to use his budget to:

  1. Introduce Business Rates Relief for new mobile infrastructure development, especially in harder to reach areas, providing parity with fixed fibre infrastructure. The Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2018 allows for 100% business rates relief for operators who install new fibre on their networks. Expanding this to mobile would help make the installation of mobile infrastructure more economically viable, particularly in harder to reach areas, allowing operators to expand coverage and reduce not-spots.
  2. Continue to promote full fibre deployment to facilitate mobile and 5G roll-out. Full fibre networks are essential to mobile deployment and must continue to be expedited.
  3. Enhance regional development funding to local and regional bodies such as Local Enterprise Partnerships to encourage public intervention where network rollout is uneconomic. Ofcom recently suggested public subsidy in its advice to Government as a means to pay for new coverage rollout and to cover total not-spots.
  4. Ensure additional funding to assist the planning and development functions of local authorities to aid mobile infrastructure development. Local authority budget cuts have led to alarming decreases in the capability and resources of the planning and development departments across councils. To ensure the effective deployment of 4G and 5G, it is vital that they are adequately skilled and resourced if the UK is to meet its ambitions for world-class connectivity.

Hamish MacLeod, Director of Mobile UK, said:

“Mobile communications are no longer a luxury, and with the imminent roll-out of 5G networks it is critically important to ensure that the UK fiscal environment for mobile infrastructure investment is

“Mobile communications are set to underpin much of the Government's ambition to ensure the UK is a leading digital economy with world-class connectivity. Time is of the essence to ensure it is economically viable for operators to roll-out their networks quickly and cost-effectively. Mobile UK urges the Chancellor to prioritise mobile on the same level as fixed broadband by extending Business Rates relief to mobile infrastructure and outlining opportunities for public intervention where it is uneconomic to deploy providing the right foundations to ready the UK for 5G.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. Mobile UK is the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators -  EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
  2. The Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill enables 100% business rates relief for operators who install new fibre on their networks bust does not cover the installation of mobile infrastructure.
  3. Mobile UK's full budget submission to the Chancellor can be found here.

About Building Mobile Britain

Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.

For further information – www.buildingmobilebritain.org.uk or #BuildingMobileBritain

Media Contacts
Gareth Elliott
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076
Email: press@mobileuk.org

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