BT has called for changes in how mobile firms can use local government infrastructure such as lamp posts and CCTV columns to house network equipment in order to speed up the roll-out of 5G across the UK.
Many local councils currently operate a concession model under which they grant a single operator exclusive rights to their street furniture, including the right to levy wholesale charges on any rivals who wish to access the same infrastructure.
BT claims these charges “can drive up costs for operators and stymie investment” and says the industry and councils should instead adopt an ‘open access’ model in which all mobile networks can access the same infrastructure in return for a payment to the local council.
It says such a switch could help all networks speed up the delivery of 5G networks.
In order to encourage the change, BT has proposed ending its own exclusive arrangements with Glasgow, Cardiff, Brighton, Plymouth, Carlisle, Newcastle, Gateshead, Nottingham, Gloucester and Leicester councils.
Paul Ceely, Director of Network Strategy, BT Group, said: “While the concessions model made sense in the early 2010’s when it first came into common use, the market and regulatory landscape have changed and it’s become clear that exclusivity agreements act as a barrier to further 4G and 5G investments.”
He added: “The UK needs an alternative approach which sees industry and local authorities working together to share these street sites in an open and collaborative way.
“This will create the right environment for long-term investment and innovation in future mobile networks.
“We believe Open Access will be critical in ensuring the UK has the best mobile infrastructure in place to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading digital economies.”