The Welsh government has been urged to work alongside mobile phone companies to ensure the country benefits from the roll-out of 5G networks.
A report published by the National Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee warns that planning rules will need to be overhauled so firms can install tall enough masts to provide reliable and comprehensive coverage and share infrastructure with rivals.
Current rules allow masts to be 15 metres high but networks told Assembly Members that this was insufficient to accommodate equipment for multiple operators.
The Welsh Government is considering increasing the maximum height to 25m but AMs say this should be further increased to at least 30m.
Today’s report also should engage with mobile operators “to identify the challenges of rolling out the 5G network, and consider how to address those challenges using the levers it has at its disposal” and to ensure providers are obliged to provide coverage even in areas where they’re commercial unviable.
“Mobile phone coverage in Wales consistently lags behind the rest of the UK,” said Russell George AM, Chair of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.
“The advent of 5G promises to further integrate technology into our lives through smart devices such as autonomous cars. It is critical therefore that Wales is not left behind in this new era.
“But while the country as a whole prepares for the next generation of mobile connectivity, there are still parts of Wales with no connection at all. That simply isn’t good enough and it is crucial these not-spots are covered, particularly in remote, rural areas.
“We are therefore urging ministers to engage with the network operators, establish the challenges ahead and how best to tackle them face on.”