The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced the launch of a £4m fund to encourage mobile companies to find more efficient ways to use publicly-owned buildings and curbside infrastructure such as CCTV poles to host 5G radio equipment.
As part of the two-year project, mobile network operators including VirginMedia 02, Vodafone, Three UK and EE will gain easier access to lamp-posts, bus shelters and other street furniture in a move the government claimed will “speed up the roll out of next-generation, ultrafast 5G technology”.
Street furniture and buildings can be used to host cheaper 5G network equipment with less visual impact compared with traditional phone masts but currently network operators claim it is difficult to acquire the information needed to verify that a structure is suitable.
As part of the trial, the government will allow councils to use new digital asset management platforms to share data on street furniture’s suitability including location, physical dimensions, proximity to the street and access to a power source.
Minister for digital infrastructure Matt Warman said: “The lampposts lining our streets have huge potential to accelerate the roll out of 5G and reduce the need to build new masts, but right now getting access to this infrastructure can be tricky.
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