August 27, 2020
By Gregor Cunningham, Marketing Manager
The Infralink programme, funded by the Scotland 5G Centre, will engage with public sector property owners and telecom providers to seek to improve mobile connectivity and the relationship between the entities. The programme aims to simplify the process of installing infrastructure and identifying suitable sites for mobile equipment by helping to bring together property owners and telecoms providers.
A recent study by Deloitte estimated that enhancements to wireless technologies could increase the nation’s GDP by up to £17 billion by 2035. To deliver greater connectivity and more capacity across existing networks, land, buildings and street furniture need to be used to host mobile network sites. However, agreements for sites can be complex and time-consuming to put in place, stalling deployment of vital communications networks.
Recognising the challenges faced by the public sector and the telecoms industry, the Infralink programme aims to provide the public sector and the telecoms industry with practical best practice tools to make the process of identifying a site and agreeing the terms of the lease more efficient. The new programme will highlight the opportunities for 5G, communicate the legislative changes brought in by the European Electronic Communications Code, and create a series of standardised documents to support talks over its development.
Infralink is working to support a UK-wide ‘National Asset Register’ that will bring together proprietary and open data to give the best understanding and easy access to physical assets for deployment. The National Asset Register will create a ‘shop window’ for Scottish public sector assets that will allow industry to quickly identify suitable locations for mobile infrastructure deployment which are owned by organisations that are actively looking to engage with industry.
Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of FarrPoint said: “We’re delighted to be a partner in this initiative to help drive mobile connectivity and aid the development of 5G in Scotland. It is great to see these practical steps being taken. This programme compliments some of the other innovative work we’re doing with Scottish Future’s Trust, supporting our ultimate goal to make Scotland a leader in 5G adoption.”
Sarah Eynon, Infralink programme manager and associate director of the Scottish Futures Trust Digital Infrastructure Team, said: “The Infralink team has identified that if we take a national approach to making the process of identifying a site and agreeing the terms of the lease more efficient, we have a stronger chance of Scotland leading the way in digital infrastructure deployment and connectivity. This will reduce the burden placed on both the public sector and industry, and should lead to quicker, collaborative results.
“We’re already speaking with an initial group of industry stakeholders, government agencies and local authorities to gather data and get valuable feedback on our proposed activities. We hope to shift the overall focus to concentrate on the opportunities available to everyone involved. The Shared Rural Network programme, for example, will be critical to extending 4G coverage across Scotland and the tools produced by Infralink will make that roll out more efficient for both sides. We are using the experience from the Scottish Governments 4G Infill project and other UK programmes to ensure we are building on best practice. The aim is to have the first set of tools in place by the end of the year, which can ultimately make Scotland a more inviting place to invest and boost the deployment of mobile connectivity.”
Paul Coffey, CEO of The Scotland 5G Centre, added: “At the moment, there is a disconnect between network operators and landowners and bringing these two groups together is an important step in creating our next generation of communications networks. 5G is entirely different to the technologies that have come before. It will require a greater level of infrastructure to achieve the ubiquitous coverage needed to open up the many exciting opportunities for people, businesses and public services across the country.
“Accelerating the deployment and adoption of 5G is a priority for The Scotland 5G Centre. By encouraging collaboration through projects such as Infralink and engaging with partners from across the UK, we hope to raise awareness of the benefits of 5G, while also addressing some of the misconceptions and challenges that might prevent people and businesses from getting involved.”