New planning laws will enable mobile network operators in the UK to increase coverage of 4G and 5G and combat frustrating ‘no bar blues’ by installing newer and bigger phone masts.
The government’s Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said that reforms to planning laws will help to finally eliminate signal dropouts in both urban and rural areas while “dialling up” the rollout of faster 5G connections.
The law changes will allow operators to make new masts that are taller and wider than existing ones, which will increase their range and allow extra equipment to be installed.
Fears about the environmental impact of bigger masts have also been considered as the government will put tougher legal duties in place to preserve the picturesque countryside and other protected areas such as national parks.
The plans for new masts will support the government’s own £1bn Shared Rural Network initiative, which aims to get rid of 4G ‘not spots’ and speed up the rollout of 5G, which is up to 100 times faster than older networks.
Mobile UK chief executive Hamish MacLeod said that building high-quality mobile networks is both “complex and challenging” and welcomed the new planning regulations.
He added: “They will enable operators to deploy mobile networks more efficiently to meet ambitious targets for rural and urban coverage, including next-generation 5G.”
Mobile operators will still need agreements and approval from landowners and local authorities to install new masts, but new developments can now be five metres taller and two metres wider.
Existing masts can also be upgraded to 5G without approval.