At West Midlands 5G (WM5G) we were delighted that our barrier busting lead, Ric Reilly, was asked to speak at the RICS Telecoms Forum Conference yesterday (November 14) to share details of the pioneering work that we are leading to accelerate 5G deployment by cutting red tape.

Over the last five years, the planning regulations that govern the deployment of mobile network masts have changed dramatically. This has resulted in market challenges in areas such as determining compensation, access rules and rights – resulting in delays to the deployment of mobile networks and threatening the roll-out of 5G.

West Midlands 5G Limited is a newly founded organisation that has been formed to accelerate the benefits of 5G in the West Midlands as part of the Government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme. WM5G is committed to using 5G to make a real and positive difference to the people, businesses and public services in the West Midlands.

Recognising the challenges that councils and mobile operators have faced in applying planning regulations, Ric and his team have been focussed on making it as easy and straightforward as possible for mobile network operators to deploy 5G networks. He said:

“By facilitating the use of public assets, enabling the delivery of more full fibre across the region, and through solving any issues arising from the Electronic Communications Code and the National Planning Policy Framework our Infrastructure Acceleration team can break through barriers in the West Midlands, encouraging all parties to collaborate.

“We’ve already had plenty of success in doing this, having discovered, learned about and implemented the necessary methodological processes required to accelerate 5G deployment, building excellent relationships along the way. In some cases, we’ve sped up the installation of 5G sites by 6-12 months. Meanwhile, in others, WM5G has ensured that potential misunderstandings didn’t persist and threaten progress to 5G deployment.

“Now it’s time to share our successes. WM5G has achieved a standardised and simplified approach to 5G deployment that both mobile network operators and our councils value our input in delivering. We are liaising with Digital Champions at all seven of our councils, continuously documenting and refining our approach. In turn, we are now widening our support to the outlying councils with the West Midlands and have begun sharing best practice with local governments across the country.

“How have we achieved this? In working closely with Gateley Hamer we have fostered expertise in many areas, including: compulsory purchase orders, industry networks, local authority knowhow and planning proficiency. This has allowed WM5G to begin barrier busting and cut through all the red tape, budget cuts, skills shortages and limited autonomy that our local authorities have to tackle on a daily basis.

“By adopting standard code agreements, we’ve been able to accelerate the necessary 5G infrastructure in the West Midlands. I encourage all parties involved in this type of activity to share their knowledge, information and learnings, to adopt standardised approaches and to encourage communication and co-operation between all parties – whether these are operators, landlords, agents or lawyers.

“In this industry, the last two years have ultimately been all about the Electronic Communications Code. To take it forward and step into a 5G-enabled future, we must all focus on three things: engagement, conversation and collaboration for the benefit of our citizens, communities and companies.”