5G -- coming soon to a bus shelter near you

The roll out of 5G with its download speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G looks set to revolutionize mobile communication. However, it does require considerable infrastructure investment from the operators.

A new initiative launched today by the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will see a £4 million ($5.5 million) competition to make it simpler and quicker for mobile companies to use publicly-owned buildings and curbside infrastructure -- such as CCTV poles, traffic signals, lampposts and bus shelters -- to host 5G radio equipment.

Using existing infrastructure allows 5G network equipment to be deployed more cheaply, quickly and with less visual impact compared with traditional phone masts. However, 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.

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"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," says Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman. "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."

Hamish MacLeod, spokesperson for industry group Mobile UK, says:

Mobile networks are critical to the UK’s economic recovery yet deploying infrastructure on public assets has often proved difficult.

We welcome this competition aimed at breaking down these barriers and accelerating investment in 5G by piloting new digital platforms that bring together public bodies and mobile operators to make public-owned infrastructure more easily accessible.

We are committed to working closely with the DCMS and Local Authorities on this project.

The Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) project is the latest in a number of measures announced by the UK government to break down the barriers holding back the roll out of faster digital connectivity.

Image credit: michaelpuche/depositphotos.com

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