Taller masts could be the solution to ensure Britain’s 5G network is rolled out on time and to all corners of the country.
MPs from across the political divide have spoken in unison about the need for a change to the UK’s telecoms infrastructure and better serve rural communities. As such, Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has launched a consultation into plans for improving the network of masts across the UK, whilst Labour has agreed that “bolder” plans are needed to meet growing demands and opportunities.
Whilst some have voiced concerns that 50-metre masts may have a negative effect on the UK countryside, Morgan countered that taller towers could stop the current proliferation of masts – or even potentially reduce the total number in future.
She added that, whilst developers needed to consider the requirements that a nationwide 5G network would pose, all decisions would be made sympathetically, to respect areas of outstanding natural beauty, for example.
As it stands, mobile masts can legally be no taller than 25 metres. However, it’s likely this rule will change and they’ll soon double in height, making them almost as tall as the 52-metre Nelson’s Column.
Additional height is beneficial as it provides much greater chance of an unbroken sight line between the mast and receiver. If plants, trees or buildings get in the way, signal is impacted and speeds drop.
This line of sight also means masts could reach areas further away than before – so they could be sited away from towns or rural beauty spots, but still provide the coverage from afar.
Rural communities are expected to welcome the change – if it’s approved – as they could actually be the biggest beneficiaries of 5G connectivity. The network provides opportunities to harvest and monitor data on a much larger scale than ever before, which has already been shown to benefit farmers by giving them a greater depth of information that can be scrutinised in real time.
The consultation closes in early November, with the verdict set to follow shortly afterwards.