4 lakh extra masts needed for 5g network in rural Britain
Rolling out high speed mobile phone coverage and internet to the forgotten corners of rural Britain will require at least 400,000 extra masts, many of which will need to be 80ft high, experts have said.
In this month’s budget Phillip Hammond, the Chancellor, pledged to invest £1.1 billion the development of a 5g network which will bring faster and more reliable mobile broadband and phone coverage to the UK by the early 2020s.
But a recent report by consumer watchdog Which? found that mobile users in half of England cannot even access 4g, while in Wales the fast signal is available for just one third of the time.
Expert from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), King’s College London, and the universities of Surrey and Sussex, warned that people living the countryside may have to accept 80 foot (25 metre) masts if they want to catch up and enjoy the faster service. More than 10 times the number of masts and base stations, will be needed for full coverage across the country, but super-fast 1-2 gigabits per second speeds will always be confined to cities, they warned.
Professor Will Stewart, of the IET said, “There is nowhere near enough capacity to deliver what we think the system needs, there never has been. The crucial thing is you need to be shorter range to deliver the extra capacity, that means more base stations, at least ten times more, maybe 100 times. There are between 30,000 and 40,000 masts now. One of the things you are going to see in five years is the masts getting taller, to get more coverage. 25 metres is what the mobile operators are asking for. The UK has got the shortest masts in Europe."