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Councils should consider 5G in planning policy, says NIC chair Adonis

Words: Laura Edgar

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has recommended that local authorities consider how the deployment of digital infrastructure can be established in planning policy.

The recommendation comes in the NIC’s latest report Connected Future.

In March 2016, the government asked the commission to consider what the UK can do to become a word leader in 5G deployment. It also looked at what can be done to ensure the UK can do to take early advantage of the potential application of 5G services.

Lord Adonis, chair of the commission, said 5G is the future, but the UK is “languishing in the digital slow lane”, stating that the UK’s 4G network is worse than Romania, Albania, Panama and Peru.

“Our roads and railways can feel like digital deserts and even our city centres are plagued by not spots where connectivity is impossible. That isn’t just frustrating, it is increasingly holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce.”

The report suggests that mobile connectivity has become a necessity. If the government acts now, Adonis continued, the UK can ensure the major transport networks and urban centres are 5G ready in time to give British industry the chance to “lead the world in exploiting its applications”.

The report makes a number of recommendations on what can be done going forward, including:

  • Local government should actively facilitate the deployment of mobile telecoms infrastructure. Local authorities should work together and with Local Enterprise Partnerships to develop coordinated local mobile connectivity delivery plans. These should include considering how the deployment of digital infrastructure can be established as a priority in local planning policy.

  • Government responsibility for digital infrastructure should fall under a single cabinet minister that has the authority to shape policy and deliver across the government. The minister would report to the Economy and Industrial Strategy Cabinet Committee.

  • Motorways must have mobile telecommunication networks fit for the future. To ensure they meet the long term operational needs of connected vehicles and the connectivity needs of the passengers, an open and accessible mobile telecommunication and backhaul network that is fit for the future should be installed. Plans for how to deliver this should be set out by the end of 2017.

Connected Future can be found here (pdf).

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