The UK government has pledged a change to the law that would ensure the entire country is served by mobile connectivity – totally eradicating so-called ‘not spots’.
Over recent years the government has invested billions into installing new masts and networks across the UK to not just speed up the 5G roll out, but also ensure all areas of the UK get effective coverage.
Now, the project has been ramped up with a suite of new rules that will make it quicker and easier to equip rural areas with high-speed connections.
The plans actually involve amending the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, to make it so that old masts can be upgraded without needing to go through the existing approval process – which has come under fire for being excessively difficult and long winded. An additional benefit here is that the government’s plans could also reduce the need for additional masts to be built in rural beauty spots.
The rule change will include increasing the maximum mast height from 25 to 30 metres in unprotected areas, where permission has been granted (in protected areas it will remain at 25 metres). Unprotected areas will also be able to have masts installed on buildings without prior permission – with extra focus on doing this near main roads.
Despite these new freedoms, mobile operators will still need agreement from the landowner before building any new infrastructure, and any new ground-based masts will need approval by local authorities – which will also have a say on where they are positioned and how they look.
Announcing these changes, Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “We’ve all felt the frustration of having the ‘no bar blues’ when struggling to get a phone signal, so we’re changing the law to wipe out mobile ‘not spots’ and dial up the roll out of next generation 5G.
“Phone users across the country will benefit – whether they are in a city, village or on the road – and tighter rules on the visual impact of new infrastructure will ensure our cherished countryside is protected.” The government intends to introduce these changes as soon as parliamentary time allows.