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Speed Up Britain campaign launches to accelerate roll out of Britain’s mobile networks

  • Campaign calling for urgent reform to the Electronic Communications Code, the legislation intended to accelerate mobile network build-out. 
  • The Code, introduced in 2017, is not working as intended. Current plans for mobile infrastructure rollout are being slowed down significantly by avoidable legal obstacles. 
  • Campaign chaired by former digital minister Ed Vaizey and backed by Cellnex, Cornerstone, MBNL, and Mobile UK. 
  • Failure to act will make it harder for mobile operators to roll-out networks that provide connectivity critical to the national recovery, and meet the Government’s ambitions for a world-class digitally connected Britain. 
  • The need is real: 65% of those who think mobile internet is important for work think 5G could be positively transformative; 63% of young workers rely more on mobile internet for work now than before COVID-19. 

London, UK, July 21 2020 – Cellnex, Cornerstone, MBNL, and Mobile UK today announce the launch of Speed Up Britain, a new campaign calling for the Government to reform the Electronic Communications Code (“the Code”), legislation that was intended to assist the rapid deployment of mobile infrastructure. 

The Code, last revamped in 2017, was designed to help network operators and landowners reach agreements on network upgrades and rollout. Mobile connectivity continues to reshape society, and has played a major role in helping combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Proprietary polling carried out for the Speed Up Britain campaign shows that 60% of us rely on mobile internet for one hour or more a day, and the pandemic has shown that more people need mobile coverage so they can share the economic benefits of new technology. 

The opportunity is particularly real for small businesses and those who need mobile connectivity for their work. 59% of SMEs surveyed for the Campaign think 5G will be positively transformative for them, as do 65% of those who consider mobile internet important for their work. 

Unfortunately, the Code is not delivering in the way it needs to. Government and industry believed it would enable operators to upgrade equipment and build new sites quickly and efficiently, with savings allowing investment in increased mobile coverage and better rural connectivity. But deployment still isn’t happening as fast as is needed, despite a majority of people (54%) being favourable to having a mobile mast near their home if connectivity improves as a result, and 66% saying that they would not want to live in a part of the country without a good mobile internet connection. 

As the UK strives for economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, this joint campaign is designed to support the Government in taking action to ensure the industry can continue to meet connectivity demands now, and build network resilience for the future. Speed Up Britain is calling on the Government to make specific, targeted changes to the Code which will: 

  • Allow everyone involved in delivering mobile infrastructure to collaborate effectively, and to help the Government meet its digital ambitions; 
  • Reduce scope for the processes it outlines to be delayed unnecessarily; 
  • Better enable operators to install and upgrade new technologies on mobile sites; and, 
  • Make the process of rolling out new sites much more efficient. 

Speed Up Britain is chaired by Rt Hon Ed Vaizey, the former Minister for the Digital Economy between 2014 and 2016, and Member of Parliament for Wantage between 2005 and 2019. The campaign will draw on the support of landowners, organisations and representative bodies from a wide range of industries and sectors of the economy that share the Campaign’s belief that improved mobile connectivity is fundamental to the future growth and prosperity of the UK. 

Ed Vaizey, Chair of Speed Up Britain, said: “These past months have shown how reliant we are on mobile connectivity to conduct business and stay in touch. When the Code was introduced back in 2017, it was supposed to make the process of building and upgrading mobile infrastructure easier, not harder. And yet, three years later, progress has been glacial. Industry does continue to work closely with the landowners who host mobile masts, but progress in the rollout of this critical national infrastructure is being hampered and delayed by legal inconsistencies and lengthy legal proceedings. 

Our campaign will work to ensure that our country is equipped to fulfil its digital and economic ambitions, and I invite the wider industry to support this mission.” 

Following launch, the Campaign will be actively engaging with Government, industry and other stakeholders including site owners and third parties to pursue its agenda constructively. It will also be conducting research into the specific downstream opportunities it expects from taking action to reform the Code, and is calling for a Government consultation into the changes it is proposing. 

ENDS 

For media inquiries please contact:
James Melville-Ross: +44 (0) 7909684467
Adam Davidson: +44 (0) 7793845080
contact@speedupbritain.com

About Speed Up Britain Speed Up Britain is a cross-industry, non-partisan organisation, campaigning for better mobile connectivity in every part of across the UK. We welcome organisations who wish to join the campaign as supporters. Speed Up Britain was founded by organisations committed to delivering the infrastructure necessary to meet demand for future mobile connectivity but who are frustrated by blockages in the system of securing access agreements under the Electronic Communications Code. The campaign is chaired by Rt Hon Ed Vaizey, the former Minister for the Digital Economy (2014-2016) and Member of Parliament for Wantage between 2005 and 2019. Find out more at www.speedupbritain.com