The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a two-year project to ramp up the use of public buildings and street furniture in providing the infrastructure for 5G.
It has opened a competition under the Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) for £4 million worth of grants to local and regional authorities to support trials on using the assets to host 5G network equipment more cheaply, quickly and with less visual impact that traditional phone masts.
It said network operators often find it difficult to acquire the information needed to verify that a structure is suitable, such as its location, physical dimensions, proximity to the street or access to a power source.
DCMS has encouraged local and regional authorities to form partnerships with industry and submit joint proposals for pilot project funds to test the use of a digital asset management platform in different locations across the UK.
This will provide evidence on how the digital mapping and brokerage of assets can benefit mobile network operators and their network delivery partners, users of mobile services and the public sector. A draft technical design has been drawn up to outline the minimum requirements of the platform.
The department said it will then support authorities in the nationwide adoption of the platforms.
Digital Infrastructure Minister 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.
“That’s why we are investing millions to help local councils and mobile companies work together more effectively to bring people the incredible benefits of faster connectivity as we level up the UK.”
The DCIA comes from a collaborative bid between DCMS and the Department for Transport to receive support from HM Treasury’s £200 million Shared Outcomes Fund.
The strengthening of the 5G infrastructure will help to support the deployment of technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, which in turn could support innovations in fields such as transport and remote healthcare.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0