← Updates

Speeding Up Britain with standardisation from Infralink

The past year has been a challenge for everyone in the UK.

Three lockdowns have impacted our connections with loved ones and friends. They’ve had an impact on our mental health, and they’ve made it harder to do business.

For many, our mobile networks have sustained us. They’ve allowed us to stay in touch and stay productive. But our demands on them have also grown to new levels, and sadly not everyone has the quality of mobile connectivity they need to stay afloat in a society and economy which is more digital now than ever.

The mobile industry is working hard to redress the balance, seeking to build out our networks and meet the demands of communities by providing new technologies like 5G which can kick-start their pandemic recovery.

To accelerate the progress and keep our network build-out rolling, the industry needs to engage with landowners of all shapes and sizes to agree contracts that allow for new infrastructure to be built and for existing infrastructure to be accessed, maintained and upgraded.

The Speed Up Britain campaign is calling for reform to the piece of legislation governing this process: the Electronic Communications Code. The Government has recently consulted on this and we have proposed a number of improvements that will make it easier to give the UK the mobile network it deserves.

While the push for legislative change moves ahead, a partnership organisation in Scotland called Infralink is also seeking to smooth the process by establishing standardised processes and documentation, including all-important lease agreements for buildings and land, so all parties can work more effectively.

Speed Up Britain believes the organisation, led by experts at the Scottish Futures Trust and the Scotland 5G centre, can make a real impact on the process of improving connectivity by making interactions between site owners, infrastructure providers and mobile companies much more simple, predictable and efficient.

Standardisation puts everyone on the same page, right from the off.

The impact of driving this kind of simplification is compelling. Infralink has already had real success in helping Forestry and Land Scotland standardise agreements across 50 sites used to deliver the UK’s vital Emergency Services Network, which gives first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies on the frontline.

In England, a similar approach has helped all local authorities involved in the DCMS-funded West Midlands 5G project to publish their assets (land, buildings, street furniture) on its interactive map. This has already enabled Mobile Network Operators to save approximately 5-6 months when developing high-level network designs – they now completed in as little as two weeks.

The Speed Up Britain Campaign fully supports Infralink’s efforts and will explore opportunities to work more closely with them to make the most of what it’s providing. Our industry needs this kind of innovation to make sure we maximise the potential from the range of new technologies now emerging.

Without it, we won’t move fast enough or build the types of relationships we need to deliver on the promise of a Britain connected for all.