October 20, 2023

GUEST BLOG: Dedicated Telecoms Unit Works With Industry To Attract And Accelerate Digital Infrastructure Investment In Glasgow

Guest blog by Anne McLister, Head of Digital Economy, Glasgow City Council #LocalDigitalIndex - This article has been replicated with permission from techUK and can be found here.

Glasgow City Council (GCC) has recognised the strategic and social importance of digital infrastructure to support inclusive economic growth and since 2018 has pro-actively worked to attract and grow investment in digital infrastructure investment in the city.

In 2020, GCC’s Digital Economy team established a dedicated Telecoms Unit, the first of its kind in the UK, to work with industry to facilitate investment and act as a single point of engagement between the private sector and Glasgow City Council. The Telecoms Unit liaises with service providers, their agents and those directly investing and deploying fixed and mobile services to ensure there is an efficient and responsive engagement model.  

Digital connectivity is a fundamental requirement to support civic, social and economic engagement to connect the City's residents, businesses, and communities. The Telecoms Unit supports both the acceleration of digital infrastructure investment in the city and ensures compliance to legislation and guidance, such as the Electronic Communications Code.

The online portal provides key information openly to all service providers and Telecoms industry contacts. This portal publishes all GCC assets that are relevant to digital deployment and data layers that can be downloaded onto the industry’s own data systems. In addition, template legal agreements for accessing these Council assets are also available, along with fee structures and standard pricing.

The Telecoms Unit is underpinned by coherent processes and systems that support engagement with all of the Council departments involved. Glasgow City Council undertook a full review and procedure capture that has resulted in rationalised processes relating to infrastructure deployment and services, enabling improved internal efficiencies as well as optimised and timely engagement between the Council and industry. This enables both effectiveness and reduced time to market for MNOs and other infrastructure providers. More broadly, the Unit has enabled GCC to establish strategic relationships with a range of connectivity providers and encouraged investment in Glasgow’s digital infrastructure.

Glasgow was one of the first UK cities to develop standard agreements for the deployment of small cells, which will improve capacity of 4G and 5G networks across the city. Glasgow now has signed agreements in place with a number of small cell providers.

Other initiatives pioneered by Glasgow include working with infrastructure providers to make use of grass verges for street work sites where adopted pavements are not an option. Moving the installation off the pavement onto the adjacent grass verge reduces clutter and avoids underground cables and pipes - another first for the industry.

The Telecoms Unit works closely with colleagues in Planning, Property, Legal, Lighting and Roads Departments that ensures that the Council is providing the necessary support to industry on their investment. The Unit has extended its support to other city organisations and neighbouring local authorities, allowing them to benefit from Glasgow’s approach as well as lessons learned.

In effect, the Telecoms Unit lowers the cost of ‘doing business with Glasgow’ and is the foundation for maximising investment as well as ensuring ECC compliance. The result is that Glasgow retains a competitive advantage over those locations with more onerous/disjointed processes, fewer future-proofing policies and less visible/proactive engagement from the local authority.

The value of the work by Glasgow has been recognised by industry as well as local and national governments, with industry in particular recognising Glasgow as an easy to work with and, consequently, more industry operators are choosing to come to Glasgow to invest in digital connectivity.

Glasgow City Council wants to ensure reliable connectivity is available for all our communities and businesses. The objective of the Telecoms Unit is to engage with and support industry to enable this.”

Anne McLister, Head of Digital Economy, Glasgow City Council

"Working with Glasgow City Council has been a prime example of how cooperation can streamline processes to improve the greater objective of providing our communities with reliable connectivity. It’s encouraging to see that delivering our network infrastructure is seen as a priority to enabling next generation of mobile connectivity."

Belinda Fawcett, Director of Property and Estates and General Counsel, Cornerstone.

 “The excellent work that the Telecoms Unit did to adopt the open access model, defining legal agreement templates, the valuation of their assets, and creating their online asset management tool, was the main reason why we decided to sign the agreement with Glasgow City Council. All our attention was mainly focused on London before that.“

Andres Cruz, Senior Account Manager MNOs, Freshwave Group

If you are an industry partners looking to engage about investing in Glasgow’s digital infrastructure, please email

Anne McLister has previously spoken to Mobile UK about her role as a digital champion - click here.

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