The UK government has launched a £30m UK-wide competition help rural areas seize the opportunities presented by 5G technology, which offers mobile connection speeds 10 to 20 times faster than 4G.

Currently only around 67% of the country can access a good 4G signal and therefore the government are planning reforms as a means to removing current barriers whilst realising that there must also be a balance between the interests of the landowners and mobile operators.

The Rural Connected Communities competition will see up to 10 rural locations selected to run trials of 5G applications with the aim of stimulating commercial investment in 5G technology.

 

5G technology is already being used in the Orkney Islands to remotely monitor salmon fisheries.

In line with this the government has also launched a consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules to improve rural mobile coverage across the country.

Reforming planning laws for mobile infrastructure was a pledge made by prime minister Boris Johnson during his campaign to replace Theresa May.

He said he wanted to “level-up connectivity” for communities across the UK, further support the roll-out of 5G and boost the economy.

The consultation on potential changes to permitted development rights for mobile infrastructure in England includes proposals on changing the permitted height of new masts to deliver better mobile coverage, promoting mast sharing between mobile providers and other utilities and minimising the need to build additional infrastructure.

Currently masts on public land must be no more than 25m high but the government wants to relax these rules and so the UK could see some as tall as 50m in the future.

Other proposals include allowing building-based masts nearer to main roads to support 5G and increase mobile coverage.