Mobile UK, the trade association for mobile network operators, has urged councils to give equal priority to mobile as fixed broadband and asks them to seize opportunities right away to prepare for 5G.
The new Councils and Connectivity Report from the association revealed that only 28% of councils’ local plans have any detailed reference to mobile connectivity.
The report outlines that 65% of councils lack a councillor having specific responsibility for digital issues, while 87% of them did not undertake auditing of the suitability of their land, buildings and other infrastructure to accommodate digital infrastructure.
Furthermore, 74% of the councils did not apply for funding to boost the digital connectivity in their respective regions, the report found.
Following the report, Mobile UK wants more councils to implement simple steps to back the introduction of 5G. It wants councils to include mobile connectivity into their strategic plans and also allocate dedicated staff for it.
The association said that 5G, by bringing in significant boosts to data capacity and speed, is likely to help generate major economic benefits to the country by chipping in up to £164bn to GDP by 2030.
Furthermore, its research found that the councils are currently staring at a crucial opportunity to take critical steps towards launching 5G given that it is up to them to grant planning permission or host new infrastructure.
The Councils and Connectivity Report also advocates best practice while highlighting local authorities that are already implementing measures to facilitate better cooperation and helping the mobile industry.
Mobile UK said that it is asking councils to work in partnership with the industry to offer the certainty required to assist mobile operators to introduce networks.
Mobile UK policy and communications head Gareth Elliot said: “Councils have a vital role, yet while many are working towards a connected future, our research has found that there is still a lag in fully prioritising mobile connectivity.
“With launch plans announced for 5G now is the time to take the opportunity to work with industry to break down barriers and champion mobile connectivity, to ensure the next generation of mobile infrastructure can be deployed quickly and effectively.”