The government has announced proposals to “eliminate mobile signal blindspots in rural areas and on roads” by allowing mobile companies to build masts up to five metres taller.
Under the proposals, companies will be allowed to make new and existing masts taller and up to two metres wider than current rules permit, in a move which will allow operators to fit more equipment on masts and so provide better coverage.
According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) the reforms will “remove one of the biggest barriers to better coverage in the countryside” by reducing build time for masts and the costs of new mobile infrastructure.
Speaking of this, digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We want to level up the country and end the plague of patchy and poor mobile signals in rural communities.
“We are setting out plans to make it easier for mobile firms to transform connectivity in the countryside and propel villages and towns out of the digital dark ages.”
The move will, alongside the ongoing delivery of the £1bn Shared Rural Network, is intended to encourage mobile companies to focus on improving existing masts rather than building new ones. As part of the proposals, stricter rules on expanding masts will apply in protected areas, including national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and world heritage sites.
The plans also include proposals to bring better mobile coverage for road users by allowing building-based masts to be placed nearer to roads.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has welcomed the proposals. President Mark Bridgeman said: “Better mobile coverage will help to close the productivity gap between the rural economy and the national average, helping to create a more prosperous rural economy”.
The proposals will now be debated as part of an eight-week consultation period.