The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today published a new standard agreement to help commercial landlords and public property owners address poor areas of mobile phone coverage.
The business community has often raised the complex and differing approaches in this area and has long requested guidance. The new arrangement will speed up the process which allows mobile providers access to rooftops and other sites to install kit to address mobile ‘not spots’.
Access to mobile services is an important requirement for Londoners and businesses – with Londoners currently using 38 million gigabytes of mobile data – a fifth of all the mobile data in the UK. Each year the amount of data used rises by an estimated 25% to 42%.
The standard agreement delivers on the Mayor’s manifesto commitment to better use public sector property for digital connectivity, and forms part of his Connected London programme, which aims to enhance mobile and fixed fibre connectivity in London through investment, new data and working with local authorities.
The agreement has been developed in partnership with the British Standards Institution, with the support of City of London, and a steering committee made up of legal representatives of land owners and from the telecommunications sector.
The move will support existing 4G mobile users in areas where connectivity is poor and assist the future roll out of 5G – which will also require access to buildings – by establishing a consistent approach to be followed across London.
Leading business group London First has welcomed this agreement and today released a report, Enhancing Digital Connectivity, arguing that steps must be taken now if full fibre is to become the norm across the capital.
Theo Blackwell, London’s Chief Digital Officer said: “Today good mobile coverage is an expectation for all those who live, work or visit London. This guidance is part of the Mayor’s commitment to enhance mobile and fixed connectivity in the capital. It helps end uncertainty which has stopped or slowed infrastructure being put in place across London with a new, consistent approach.
“At City Hall we are working to ensure we have the digital connectivity infrastructure needed through our new Connected London programme, to support Londoners in areas of poor connectivity and assist the future roll out of 5G, which will hugely benefit businesses and the public alike.”
Catherine McGuiness, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation said: “This new mobile standard agreement is a landmark achievement in ensuring improved mobile coverage across London and the UK, eradicating “not spots” and expediting roll out of new 5G networks. It is welcome that the GLA has brought together key stakeholders from the telecoms and property industries to address these important issues. The City of London Corporation gives its full endorsement to the agreement, and encourages its ongoing use.”
Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of London First, said: “Making it easier to deliver the digital connectivity the capital needs is a critical part of keeping the city competitive now and into the future. Today’s announcement is welcome as it will simplify the process and speed things up for all involved.”
Hamish MacLeod, Director at Mobile UK said: “Mobile UK welcomes these standard template agreements, which result from partnership between landowners, operators and other stakeholders, all of whom recognise the vital importance of mobile connectivity to the future prosperity of London and the UK more generally.”
Melanie Leech CBE, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The British Property Federation was pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the drafting of the GLA’s mobile agreement template. The template should improve the efficiency of negotiations between parties and help to ensure that London is ready to embrace 5G.”
Catherine Haslam, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Telecoms Forum Board said: “Mobile coverage, alongside the Connected London initiative are critically important to both telecommunications’ connectivity and high technology use within the built environment. Commercial real estate, business, and public mobile users need global telecommunication systems to operate efficiently and be fit for their purpose.
“Standardised access agreements are an essential step towards easing issues and delay in the telecommunications infrastructure development process, and removing mobile ‘not spots’ will crucially provide high speed services to owners, occupiers and the public. The imminent arrival of 5G technologies makes this initiative even more timely.”