The failure of the Government’s Mobile Infrastructure Project (MiP) to meet its targets can be used as a positive, say senior figures at O2 and Vodafone.
This time last year Mobile first revealed that the MiP project was beset by delays and was way off schedule. Since that point little has improved with the extreme rural locations, but the networks believe that the struggle faced by the government can prove beneficial to the future of mobile infrastructure development.
Vodafone’s EMF Unit Manager Dr Robert Matthews told Mobile that the challenges faced by the Government were made tougher due to the nature of the locations that they were attempting to cover: ‘With the Mobile Infrastructure Project the main problems were; linking sites to the bases stations or linking them to BT infrastructure. Getting the right locations was also difficult because of the rural nature of the sites, in all my time at Vodafone I’ve been involved in two judicial reviews, the Mobile Infrastructure Project their first two sites both had judicial reviews.
‘There was often local opposition, when this happens it can be difficult to build the infrastructure in these locations to reach an agreement. Once you get a delay you haven’t accounted for it can be difficult to meet your targets. Another challenge arose from the fact that the project aimed to introduce 2G, 3G and 4G which made the backhaul challenges even bigger. On the whole the project faced the same challenges most mobile infrastructure projects do: planning permission, un-co-operative landlords, site access and power.
‘There is nothing better to demonstrate something to get the decision makers than to have them experience it for themselves.’
O2 CEO speaks out
Matthews’s sentiments were echoed by O2 CEO Ronan Dunne who used the network’s official blog to give his view on MP’s debate on mobile infrastructure in the Commons last week.
The network’s boss said, that the ‘chastening’ experience will no doubt give the Government better understanding of the challenges it faces when building out coverage.
He said: ‘I was interested to hear that Ed Vaizey plans “to revisit the Mobile Infrastructure Project”, which has fallen way short of its own targets. I suspect MIP has been a chastening experience for government, as it has come up against many of the frustrations that the mobile industry has to contend with on a regular basis.
“I have been slightly astonished”, said the Minister, “that organisations such as the National Trust have point blank refused to have masts on their land and planning authorities have turned down applications for masts despite local communities wanting them.” Welcome to our world, Minister!’