5G

BDUK vouchers and 5G testbeds updates

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…)

Mobile planning reforms and changes to Permitted Development Rights

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…)

DCMS Select Committee report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’

The Online Harms White Paper published in April 2019 proposed a duty of care on tech companies and an independent Online Harms Regulator. The DCMS Select Committee opened an inquiry in March this year calling for evidence to help understand the causes and impact of COVID-19 and how it can be tackled.

On 16 July, the Committee published a report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’ which sets out some recommendations.  On 5G specifically, the report mentions written evidence from BT stated that between 23 March and 23 April there were 30 separate attempts of sabotage on the UK’s digital infrastructure and around 80 attacks across sites operated by all four mobile networks, with 19 occurring near critical infrastructure such as fire, police and ambulance stations. EE personnel and subcontractors faced 70 separate incidents, including threats to kill and vehicles driven directly at staff.  (more…)

BSG response to the senseless criminal damage of mobile phone masts and harassment of telecoms engineers

There is absolutely no credible evidence of a link between 5G and coronavirus.

Police are investigating mobile phone mast fires around the UK as possible arson, following bizarre conspiracy theories. This is causing real danger and harm during a national emergency and wasting the much-needed resources of our police and fire-fighters. On top of that, fixed and mobile telecommunications engineers, designated as key workers, are being harassed by anti-5G campaigners. The telecommunications infrastructure is critical at a time when the population is being told to stay at home.

Cabinet secretary Michael Gove said the theories were “dangerous nonsense”. Professor Steve Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, denouncing it as “the worst kind of fake news”. “I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency, it is absolute and utter rubbish.”

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DCMS signs £1 billion deal with mobile networks to improve coverage in rural areas

Government announced today that it has reached agreement with the four mobile networks to improve 4G mobile coverage.

As part of the government’s commitment to improve digital infrastructure in the UK, the Secretary of State for DCMS has signed a £1 billion deal with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to extend rural coverage via the Shared Rural Network (SRN). This means that 4G will be available to 95% of the UK landmass by 2026, extending mobile coverage to 280,000 more premises and on an additional 16,000km of the UK’s roads. The government has pledged £500 million of funding to eliminate not-spots where there is currently no coverage from any operator. The four networks are committed to investing £532m to close almost all partial not-spots where there is currently only coverage from at least one operator.

Last August the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) and DCMS published proposals to reform permitted development rights to support deployment of 5G and extend 4G mobile coverage.

 

Telecoms Supply Chain Review

The Government has announced new plans to safeguard the UK’s telecoms network and pave way for fast, reliable and secure 5G and full fibre connectivity. This clarification is critical for a number of UK infrastructure providers who sit on the Broadband Stakeholder Group, and to inform decisions in relation to Huawei in the rollout of the 5G and full fibre, gigabit-capable networks.

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Ofcom’s proposed work plan for 2020-2021

Ofcom has set out its proposed workplan for the next financial year. The consultation closes on 25th February 2020.

Strategic priorities:

  • Better broadband and mobile – support ongoing investment in faster broadband and better mobile coverage across the country.
  • Fairness for customers – ensure broadband, phone and TV customers, particularly vulnerable people, are treated fairly.
  • Support UK broadcasting – support the sector (including public service broadcasting) in delivering continued benefits to all UK audiences.
  • Online communications – in conjunction with Government, protect consumers from harmful content online and ensure communications services online work for consumers.
  • Enable strong, secure networks – build a centre of excellence for security and resilience, work with industry to protect networks against outages and cyber-attacks, lead on initiatives to close gaps in best practice.

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BSG Report: Local Benefits for Full Fibre and 5G

The Broadband Stakeholder Group publishes research by Oxera to help local authorities understand the localised economic benefits of full-fibre and 5G

Key localised economic benefits of full-fibre and 5G include:

  • Local authorities can see up to 3.2 per cent increase in new businesses operating in the area. If reflected in business rates, a local authority could see an increase in gross revenue of over £10,000[1]
  • Existing businesses will see an increase in productivity which should result in an expected increase in turnover of up to 3.8 per cent per worker per annum
  • Local authorities can realise direct benefits by being able to implement more innovative public service delivery whilst driving down costs, such as through increased cloud adoption.

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Planning reforms proposed to speed up 5G deployment

Government launched a consultation on potentially amending permitted development rights for operators win order to extend mobile coverage and support 5G roll out. The joint consultation between DCMS and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government closed on November 4th. The BSG submitted a response.

2017 saw Government agree reforms to the Electronic Communications Code with the intention of making it easier and cheaper for communications apparatus to be installed, maintained and upgraded, following commitments from mobile network operators to invest significantly and reach specific coverage targets. Further Government reforms to planning regulations have followed, aiming to support expanding mobile connectivity. (more…)

Ofcom sets out its thinking for 2019

Ofcom this week published its Proposed Annual Plan 2019/ 20 Making Communications work for everyone. The final plan will be published in March 2019 following consultation which will run until February 8th.

Priorities will be focused around ensuring universal availability for both broadband and mobile coverage; looking to strengthen public service broadcasting; protecting consumers against unfair pricing; and investigating the scope for regulation of harmful online content.

2019 will see Ofcom designate broadband Universal Service Providers and set out the conditions that will apply to them in accordance with the legislation laid earlier this year providing for access to high speed broadband being a legal right.  Focus will also be on improving mobile coverage both indoors and rurally, and the measuring and reporting to consumers. (more…)

Government outlines telecoms investment pipeline

The week the Government set out their analysis of the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, including investment in digital infrastructure out to 2020/21 financial year (h/t ISPreview).

The report illustrates the level of public and private sector investment into the UK’s key infrastructure sectors, extending out 30 years in some sectors. For Digital Communications it sets out investment for the next three years which aligns with current Government funding programmes and given that most companies have not made public commitments beyond then.

An appendix to the report contains further details of individual company’s commitments – such as Virgin Media’s Project Lightning – through to Government projects for clearing the 700MHz spectrum band.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on these funding commitments next year as the need for Government investment increases in order to deliver the outside in approach for full fibre investment outlined in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. 

Autumn Budget 2018: Austerity moves aside as discipline takes over

Today’s Autumn Budget announcement yielded few surprises for the telecoms sector. Chancellor Philip Hammond, in what should be the UK’s last budget as part of the EU bloc, revealed that £200 million had been earmarked for programs to drive out fibre networks rurally across the UK (starting with the Borderlands, Cornwall and the Welsh Valleys), in line with the Government’s ambition to see nationwide coverage of full fibre by 2033, with 5G by 2027.

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