Local government, 5G and the question of funding

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has just published Next generation mobile technologies: A 5G strategy for the UK. The report argues that delivering 5G should be regarded as a key driver of the UK’s modern industrial strategy and the DCMS has put councils at the heart of its plans to deliver next generation mobile technologies.

This latest government strategy paper on 5G ­has been welcomed across the industry and it singles out local government as being central to its delivery – with clear implications for funding.

Councils will play a critical role in developing and delivering digital infrastructure because of the many roles it plays; from planning and asset management; to community engagement and economic growth. And councils who are actively looking to create connectivity plans and engage with the telecoms sector, will be rewarded.

To be at the forefront of the government’s plans and funding, councils need to:

  • Be ready and willing to negotiate with the telecoms sector, drawing on all of their experience (good and bad) from delivering faster broadband.
  • Draw up a detailed asset management plan for deployment of digital infrastructure, looking at possible sites for base stations (lamp posts, bus stops, public buildings)
  • Review existing planning policies – are they 5G ready and what are the planning barriers to deployment?
  • Don’t just think about 5G – are there any other creative ways to improve mobile connectivity for their residents? If 3G and 4G are still a problem, what other technologies are available to help?

The DCMS is looking at devolving powers, budgets and responsibilities to local areas to accelerate the implementation of 5G. There’s no doubt that proactive councils will be first in line to receive any funding and they will also have the best chance of being selected for pilot programmes.

Our advice is to get involved early. As key advisors to business, government, regulators (Ofcom) and the industry on this issue we welcome the government’s strategy and are keen to work with local councils to drive it forward.

If you want support to develop your connectivity plan or find out how best to negotiate with the telecoms sector to achieve what your community needs, please get in touch.

You can view the DCMS strategy paper “Next Generation Mobile Technologies: A 5G Strategy for the UK” here.