5G boost for Sunderland under new Government pilot scheme

Cutting out calls and endlessly buffering TikTok videos could be a thing of the past under a scheme to boost 5G in Sunderland.

Street lights, bus shelters and traffic lights will host more mobile network equipment to help boost mobile coverage as part of a new scheme to cut red tape and install more 4G and 5G kit.

The smaller wavelength of 5G phone signals means they can carry much more data.

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But chiefs say more antennas are needed across towns and cities to ensure seamless coverage. Telecoms providers often find it hard and time consuming to check whether CCTV poles, road signs and the like are suitable for network equipment.

Eight winning projects will receive a share from the £4million from the UK Government to help boost 4G and 5G coverage across the country. Issue date: Wednesday February 9, 2022.

Now, as part of a UK Government pilot scheme which includes Sunderland, network providers will have easier access to public buildings, traffic lights, and signs. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says this will help cut red tape and allow engineers to install more 4G and 5G kit.

Julia Lopez, digital infrastructure minister, said the pilots will modernise how local authorities and operators work together to deliver "faster, more reliable mobile coverage for millions of people".

"Everyone gets frustrated when their mobile signal is poor, particularly when patchy coverage holds up important work and social calls and makes it harder to do stuff online," the MP said.

"That is why we are determined to get the UK the connectivity it needs by rolling out better mobile coverage as quickly as possible."

As part of the pilot, eight winning projects will receive a share of the £4million Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator. This will work out how software can make it easier for telecom operators to get information about publicly owned buildings and curb-side infrastructure.

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The software being tested by the UK Government will enable local councils to more easily share the data mobile phone firms need to speed up their rollout plans, the digital ministry said.

And because operators are putting the masts on structures that are already there, fewer standalone masts will be needed as the networks rush to expand mobile coverage.

Gareth Elliott, director of policy and communications of Mobile UK, said: "Reducing the time it takes to deploy mobile infrastructure is important to enable mobile operators to roll out 4G and 5G across the country and to meet ambitious government targets."

The project means communities in 44 local authority areas can expect to benefit from faster and more reliable mobile coverage sooner. It could mean there is less need for new masts which can often take longer to build and set up. If successful, the technology could be rolled out to local authorities across the UK.

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The project winners are based across England and Scotland as part of the government’s mission to level up access to fast and reliable connectivity. Areas to benefit from the pilots include Angus, Dundee, Fife, Perth and Kinross in Scotland, as well as Tyneside, Sunderland, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Somerset, Dorset and several other areas across England.

If successful, the digital ministry said, the technology could be rolled out to other council areas across the UK.

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