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Build & Sustainability

Boosting 5G connectivity in the North East

A number of local authorities are taking part in a pilot project to boost mobile network connectivity.

The Future Connectivity Partnership aims to ramp up digital connectivity across the North of Tyne, Sunderland and South Tyneside areas.

Officials say it will modernise the way authorities work with operators, allowing councils to share information with telecoms firms around infrastructure such as streetlights, tall buildings and pockets of unused land, which might help broaden coverage and reach.

They say it will also help accelerate the transformative roll-out of 4G and 5G capability to people and businesses, which “is more important than ever after COVID-19”.

Dr Henry Kippin, managing director at North of Tyne Combined Authority, said: “This investment is important recognition of our drive to improve digital connectivity for businesses, residents and communities.

“Working with our partners in Sunderland and South Tyneside, and across the North East, we are building the collaboration that will keep the region at the forefront of 5G and digital innovation”.

Liz St Louis, assistant director for smart cities at Sunderland City Council, said: “Our regional smart city framework is growing – the DCIA pilot will enable us, as digital leaders across the combined authority area, to accelerate our progress in rolling out critical digital infrastructure to support the transformation of our cities and towns.”

Councillor Joanne Bell, lead member for resources and innovation at South Tyneside Council added: “Our digital connectivity strategy aligns with the DCIA project and aims to fully exploit the economic, social, environmental and cultural potential of comprehensive deployment of open access, gigabit-capable, full fibre infrastructure throughout the borough by 2025.

“It supports the council’s community priorities to creating the conditions for economic recovery and investment creating a highly attractive commercial environment for businesses, supporting engaged and skilled residents, informed and healthy communities all set in smart integrated places.”

We are working in partnership with our project suppliers Connected Places Catapult, Farrpoint and Sitenna, and here’s what they had to say:

Julia Lopez, digital infrastructure minister said: “Mobile companies are finding it difficult to get the data they need to check that a lamppost, bus shelter or public building is suitable for hosting their kit.

“These pilots will help solve this by modernising the way local authorities and operators work together in a way that ultimately delivers faster, more reliable mobile coverage for millions of people. It is all part of our joined-up strategy to deliver world-class connectivity to every corner of our country.”

Gareth Elliott, director of policy and communications of Mobile UK, added: “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.”