Councils should do more to speed up the deployment of mobile infrastructure, an influential think-tank has claimed.
In a report into the UK's broadband policy, Policy Exchange recommended introducing a pro-communications planning regime for councils wanting to improve its connectivity. In return, the telecoms industry would have to give assurances on the benefits of mobile broadband and the lack of impact new base stations would have on the local environment.
The report said councils should not be obliged to sign up to the regime but it would serve as a way of cutting red tape for the implementation of services. It noted the approval rate for new mobile base stations is around two in three. Where rejections are appealed, the win rate is also around two in three. It said: 'We havea situation where much of the proposed infrastructure does eventually obtainpermission, but often only after a far more lengthy process than is necessary.'
Trade body the Mobile Operators Association, which represents EE, O2, Vodafone and Three, welcomed the proposals. Executive director John Cooke said: 'In the twenty-first century, good digital connectivity, including mobile, is not an optional extra. It’s vital for individuals, businesses, for the delivery of public services, and for the economy as a whole.'
He added: 'We are particularly pleased that the report calls on Government to clear the way for the roll out of next generation networks, and its recognition that deployment of broadband infrastructure is often held up by the planning process.'
Author: Graeme Neill