DCMS has published a consultation on changes to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) which is the legal framework underpinning agreements between landowners and communications operators in the UK. The Code was substantially reformed in 2017 to make it easier and faster for apparatus to be deployed, maintained, shared and upgraded in rural areas, balancing the need for digital infrastructure with the rights of landowners and other site providers. (more…)
Last year Ofcom announced that the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz 5G Auction would begin this month (to improve coverage and speed of 5G mobile broadband networks). There was a pause in the process due to the current COVID-19 lockdown and it has now been confirmed the start of the auction will be in March 2021. Ofcom will continue to monitor the situation in the meantime.
Earlier this month Ofcom announced the four bidders as EE Limited, Hutchison 3G UK Limited, Telefónica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited. The regulations for the auction came into force in November 2020.
Evidence to the inquiry found little confidence that nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025 could be delivered, and MPs raised concerns that only 25% of the Government’s £5 billion to support roll-out to the hardest-to-reach premises will be made available during the period. The 4th report by the DCMS Select Committee says it would not be acceptable for Government to fail to meet the less ambitious target through lack of effective planning or inadequate investment. The report also finds the target for majority 5G coverage by 2027 ambitious given the ruling to ban the use of equipment by high-risk vendors.
The UK is undergoing a fundamental re-evaluation of the value that telecoms bring to the UK economy. The pandemic has consolidated the pivotal role that digital connectivity plays in underpinning the economy and wider society. Broadband and mobile connectivity have been the backbone of the accelerated drive to digital adoption, as the paper by Robert Kenny of Communications Chambers sets out. (more…)
Ofcom is consulting on its draft 2021/22 Plan of Work which sets out its proposed strategic priorities and includes the following:
- Investment in strong, secure networks
Supporting ongoing investment in faster broadband and better-quality mobile networks and working with industry to ensure they are safe, secure and resilient.
- Getting everyone connected
Working to ensure people and businesses can access key communications services – including in the hardest to reach locations. It includes monitoring the delivery of the universal broadband service and the Shared Rural Network. (more…)
Ofcom has published its consultation ‘Supporting the UK’s wireless future – Our spectrum management strategy for the 2020s’ setting out its plans to manage the use of the spectrum over the next ten years.
The proposals are grouped into three strategic themes:
- Supporting wireless innovation
- Licensing to fit local and national services
- Promoting spectrum sharing
Government announced its £250m strategy setting out targeted plans to diversify the global telecoms supply market. It focuses on three key areas of activity:
- Supporting incumbent suppliers to ensure their resilience and ability to supply the market in the near term, while supporting their transition into the emerging market structure;
- attracting new suppliers into the UK market to build resilience and competition, prioritising deployments that are in line with government’s longer-term vision; and
- accelerating open-interface solutions and deployment so that the UK is not reliant on any single vendor and begins to realise the long term vision for a more open and innovative market.
DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden introduced the Telecommunications (Security) Bill into Parliament today, giving government new powers to protect the UK’s telecoms infrastructure from cyber threats.
The Bill will strengthen the security framework for technology used in 5G and full fibre networks, including the electronic equipment and software at phone mast sites and in telephone exchanges handling internet traffic and phone calls. It imposes new legal duties on telecoms operators to increase the security of their UK networks, limit the damage of any breaches, and it hands new responsibilities to Ofcom to monitor them and their security practices. Ofcom will also have powers to carry out technical testing, interview staff, and enter premises to view equipment and documents. Fines worth up to 10% of turnover or £100,000 a day could be imposed if operators fail to comply. (more…)
In January this year, Ofcom published proposals for increasing terrestrial access to three spectrum bands in the 100-200 GHz range (116-122 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz and 185-190 GHz), currently used by Earth Exploration Satellite Services. This was followed by a further consultation in May covering the technical analysis. Ofcom has set out its decision to introduce the new licence which can be applied for through Ofcom’s website, from today. (more…)
A new taskforce, the Telecoms Diversification Task Force, has been set up to support the development and implementation of the government’s forthcoming strategy on the UK’s telecoms supply chain – aimed at reducing the reliance on high-risk vendors and bring more players into the market. Lord Livingston will lead the taskforce as Chair, with members from industry (Vodafone, Openreach, Copper Horse, BSI) and academic experts from Universities of Surrey and Bristol. Technical Director of NCSC and Ofcom’s Director of Emerging Technology will provide technical advice. (more…)
One of Government’s major infrastructure projects – the clearance of 700 MHz spectrum airwaves – has been delivered, allowing it to be used for 5G services and 4G rural mobile coverage.
On 20 August Ofcom announced that it had completed the work which began in 2017. This involved moving Freeview TV channels out of the 700 MHz spectrum band and re-tuning TV equipment in millions of homes, 99% of which was done by viewers themselves. Arqiva carried out the engineering necessary to change the frequencies on which transmitters were operating. TV broadcasters, Digital UK and Freeview, and Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) were all heavily involved. (more…)
DCMS and MCHLG updated valuation guidance to facilitate siting of digital infrastructure
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman and Local Government Minister Simon Clarke have today written to local authorities setting out how they can help boost gigabit broadband rollout and 5G mobile coverage, pointing to new government advice on land access and valuations. The advice aims for quicker deals that grant access for new digital infrastructure, such as 5G masts and full fibre broadband cabinets on public land, and with reasonable rents attached.
While councils are obliged to get ‘best value’ when agreeing land access agreements, non-monetary benefits such as enhanced connectivity for residents to work from home and SMEs to trade online, should be taken into account, as highlighted in our report ‘Impact at a local level of full-fibre and 5G investments’. (more…)
The UK regulator has confirmed plans to auction important airwaves to help improve mobile broadband and support the rollout of 5G, announcing it will release more airwaves, with bidding set to start in January 2021.
The auction will increase the total amount of spectrum available for mobile in the UK by nearly a fifth (18%) – helping improve mobile services and give people better access to 5G. (more…)
BDUK pilots a new consumer-led approach for Rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
BDUK has announced a new website to enable a consumer-led approach to make it clearer to residents and small businesses how they can access the Rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Currently, the Scheme is supplier-led. This means suppliers request the voucher on behalf of their customers. The value of the voucher contributes to the build cost of installing a gigabit-capable connection at the customer’s premises.
Gigabit broadband vouchers are a one-off contribution to homes and small to medium-sized businesses that want to install a faster, more reliable connection over gigabit-capable infrastructure in group projects. Organised by Building Digital UK (BDUK) and funded by DCMS, the programme is tasked with delivering broadband networks to the nation.
The website now enables individuals or communities to register their interest in getting a voucher, makes this visible for suppliers and enables them to express interest in providing a service. Programme Director Justin Leese stated that: “So, whilst remaining supplier agnostic we essentially walk the customers up one side of the hill, the suppliers up the other side and let them make their own introductions at the top!” via LinkedIn. The Broadband Upgrade Fund is a pilot campaign available to rural premises in Cornwall, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Cumbria and Northumberland. (more…)
In August last year DCMS and MHCLG launched a consultation proposing reforms to permitted development rights to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage. BSG responded in favour of the proposals.
Government has determined that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the proposed reforms would have a positive impact on the government’s ambitions for the deployment of 5G and extending mobile coverage. (more…)