Boosting 5G connectivity in the North East

Government has selected the North East as one of 8 national trial areas to receive a share of the £4 million Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA). It will fund the Future Connectivity Partnership, led by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NCTA), to boost vital 4G/5G connectivity in the region.

The project will modernise the way Local Authorities (LAs) work with mobile network operators. It will enable local councils to share information with mobile telecoms operators so they can easily see what infrastructure is available, such as streetlights, tall buildings and pockets of unused land, that might help them broaden their coverage and reach.

This new partnership sees a joined-up approach to streamlining access and processes, creating simple standard commercial agreements across the region that will help accelerate the transformative roll-out of 4G / 5G capability to people and businesses. This will enable North East communities to flourish and maintain the region’s position at the forefront of Digital Innovation and Connected Places activity.

The Future Connectivity Partnership includes five LAs and is part of a wider programme of work to improve digital connectivity in the North of Tyne, Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Building a strong, robust network is more important than ever after COVID-19. It will be a big factor in determining the pace and success of our region’s recovery. Improved connectivity will future proof our economy, improve access, tackle inclusion, and enable innovation in local services. It is central to making the region a great place to live, study and work.

Newcastle and the region have a growing tech and digital cluster. This investment with Government will help strengthen the sector. It will add to £20m+ of existing investment managed by ‘NTCA Digital’ which is driving digital innovation, growth, talent and inward investment for the benefit of the region. These plans also help the region be ready to take advantage of future infrastructure investment.

This project will:

  • Make LA asset information visible to commercial operators including street lights, buildings, pockets of land, other street furniture.
  • Test the use of a digital asset management platform as a single point of contact between local authorities and the commercial operators.
  • Redesign processes to make them more streamlined, easier to follow and quicker to complete.
  • Provide standardised commercial agreements which both the LAs and the commercial operators agree to, removing the burden of bespoke agreements.
  • Provide easy to follow guidelines for calculating the commercial value of asset for rental enabling each Local Authority to transact with mobile network operators easier and faster, using a predefined set of principles aligned to their own geographic location.

This acceleration and standardisation will make it cheaper for operators and communities to deploy digital infrastructure, meaning communities in the North Region can expect to benefit from faster and more reliable mobile coverage sooner than would be expected and it could mean there is less need for new masts which can often take longer to build and set up.

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