Plans to relax the planning system to allow the easier delivery of broadband infrastructure have been welcomed by the Mobile Operators Association.
On Friday (7 September) the new culture secretary Maria Miller said the implementation of superfast broadband was being held up by 'unnecssary bureaucracy' in the planning system. Under new proposals, broadband infrastructure could be installed without the need for prior approval from local councils.
The Government said it would work with mobile operators, among others, to consider how the deployment of mobile infrastructure may be speeded up. Graham Dunn, policy and external relations manager at the Mobile Operators Association, said mobile broadband was an increasingly important part of the country's digital infrastructure. He added: 'This national infrastructure is built and delivered locally and an efficient and effective planning system is crucial to the mobile operators’ ability to keep pace with Government ambition and customer demand. Complying with the current processes represents a significant resource commitment for operators and can be prohibitive in areas where the economic case for investment is already difficult to make.
'We urge the Government to ensure that these proposals become a reality and also that government policy doesn’t inadvertently favour one form of broadband provision over another and that the key role of mobile is recognised.'
The Government had announced a £150m project to bring mobile coverage to six million people in rural communities. However, the plans have been scaled back and it confirmed in August that the project would only cover 60,000 premises in 'complete not-spot areas', rather than 'improve coverage for six million people' as it had originally intended.
Editor: Graeme Neill