Plans to relax phone mast rules to end mobile signal blind spots underway

Proposed legislative changes that would allow telecommunications companies to make phone poles taller and wider could wipe out blind spots for mobile signals, the government said.

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) said proposals will encourage the adoption of 5G technology as well.

The plans could make new and existing masts 5m taller and 2m wider than current regulations allow, allowing more devices to be attached to them as part of efforts to improve telephone signals, while the need for masts in rural areas new masts are to be built.

The government said stricter rules will apply in protected areas such as national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and world heritage sites, but will also include plans to allow construction-based masts to be placed closer to major roads to improve signals for road users.

While existing masts could be upgraded without prior approval, most new masts still need local government approval.

“We want to balance the country and end the plague of inconsistent and poor cellular signals in rural communities,” said digital secretary Oliver Dowden.

“Today we plan to make it easier for cellular companies to change connectivity in the countryside and drive villages and cities out of the digital dark age. This is a welcome boost for millions of families, businesses, and visitors.

“These practical changes strike a balance between removing unnecessary obstacles that prevent better coverage and protecting our precious landscape.”

Hamish MacLeod, Director of Mobile UK, said: “We welcome the proposals made in this consultation that provide greater security and flexibility for the technological changes required to build world-class cellular networks.

“We urge the government to bring about legislative changes as soon as possible to help wireless companies achieve their ambitious goals for deployment.”

The government previously announced the £ 1 billion Shared Rural Network, which will see a number of cellular operators share infrastructure to boost cellular signal in the countryside.

DCMS confirmed that it is also launching a new consultation on a code of conduct for mobile network operators, which will contain updated guidelines for working with local authorities in setting up the communications infrastructure.

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