February 2, 2022
Funding for Local Authorities required to aid 5G rollout as part of Government's Levelling Up Agenda says Mobile UK
Today the Government published its Levelling Up White Paper and, as one of its 12 missions to level up the UK, it has called for nationwide 4G coverage and 5G coverage for the majority of the population by 2030.
To achieve this the Government must take urgent action to ensure that local authorities are provided with the right on-the-ground resources to smooth rollout and that it creates a positive investment environment to enable mobile operators to deploy its networks quickly and effectively across the country.
Getting in right locally
While there is a huge amount of positive sentiment towards 4G and 5G, there is also a challenge at the local level to address the practicalities of network build. Mobile operators continue to struggle to rollout infrastructure in local areas due to difficulties with planning, a lack of coordination or priority from local authorities, and a continued lack of understanding about the benefits that mobile connectivity can deliver.
With strained resources, many local authorities are not allocating sufficient priority, time and people to coordinate digital connectivity strategies. A recent report from Cluttons identified that only 45% of councillors said that their local authority had a digital strategy in place and less than a third (31%) stated that their council had assigned a dedicated role of Digital Champion or similar.
Without local leadership and a good understanding of the benefits of digital connectivity and why it is needed this leads to confusion, misunderstanding, ambivalence or an outright rejection from communities of the infrastructure required to provide the connectivity.
Mobile UK is calling on the Government to put in place adequate funding at the local level to assist local authorities and to fund Digital Champions.
Digital Champions, with the right funding and skillset are vital to building understanding and coordination both within local authorities and across industry. Clear leadership, both politically and at officer level builds better understanding of the technology and how it will benefit the council, residents, and businesses to enhance local areas.
To read more about Mobile UK's calls for Digital Champions click here.
Enabling a positive investment environment
Equally important to enabling local authorities on the ground is encouraging investment in mobile infrastructure and equipment. The UK continues to be an expensive place to build while customers’ mobile bills are some of the lowest in Europe. At the same time the use of data has grown massively. Mobile operators must continually invest to ensure that capacity and service levels are maintained while the revenue they receive continues to fall.
The Government must, through its Wireless Infrastructure Review, and Ofcom’s Mobile Strategic Review, consider these changing environments to ensure that those that build and provide the infrastructure that underpins our connectivity, and that will ultimately enable the Government’s mission to level up, can continue to invest in the UK.
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.
See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076