Government fund backs local connectivity projects

Written by PublicTechnology staff on 14 February 2022 in News

Eight programmes receive a share of £8m

Credit: MaxPixel

The government has provided £4m funding local projects aimed at improving mobile connectivity.

Each of the eight projects is exploring how digital software can help simplify processes when telecoms operators to attach equipment to publicly owned buildings and kerbside infrastructure such as road signs. This government claimed that this work is important to the successful rollout of 5G as the technology requires a larger number of smaller sites than 4G has done.

One of the projects supported by the Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator aims to investigate how data collection could improve mobile connectivity in Scotland’s Tay Cities Region.

Infralink-Exchange, which is a partnership between Scottish Futures Trust and the Angus, Dundee City, Fife, and Perth and Kinross local authorities, will collate data relating to sites in these areas – including the terms and conditions that would be attached to leasing them – and act as an interface between local authorities and 5G providers. The £500,000 grant will fund the Tayside pilot, with the longer-term aim being to roll the programme out across Scotland.

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Project director Sarah Eynon said: “We have the opportunity to review and change the way local authorities interact with the mobile sector. With the potential of introducing small cells in large volumes, local authorities will be required to play a more proactive part and we have the chance now to change the process and the dynamic. By being forthcoming with data, being clear on terms and conditions and interactive processes, Infralink-Exchange will open up dialogue and opportunity to address areas of challenging connectivity, and deploy technology on new assets in an area that covers all geographic and socio-economic bases – effectiveely a mini-Scotland.”

Other projects to secure funding are Berkshire Digital Infrastructure Group, which is focusing on delivering improved digital connectivity across the Thames Valley Region, and the London-based Outcomes Accelerator.

Digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez said the government had made funding available to these pilots because “everyone gets frustrated when their mobile signal is poor, particularly when patchy coverage holds up important work and social calls and makes it harder to do stuff online”.

“That is why we are determined to get the UK the connectivity it needs by rolling out better mobile coverage as quickly as possible,” she said. “Currently, mobile companies are finding it difficult to get the data they need to check that a lamppost, bus shelter or public building is suitable for hosting their kit. These eight pilots will help solve this by modernising the way local authorities and operators work together in a way that ultimately delivers faster, more reliable mobile coverage for millions of people. It is all part of our joined-up strategy to deliver world-class connectivity to every corner of our country.”


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