Planning rules are holding back 5G, says former O2 boss

Former head of O2 UK Ronan Dunne has lashed out at the upcoming Digital Economy Bill, saying it’ll only hold back 5G growth in the UK. Current planning rules and policies mean that it’ll be too difficult to build enough 5G masts in time, he said.

Although the new Bill includes measures that would make it easier for companies to build masts in mobile not-spots, Dunne believes it doesn't go far enough - instead we need a "radical overhaul".

"It's simply impossible to imagine a system that currently exists that could process 500,000 applications - never mind adopting a completely different approach to delivering the next generation of technology," he told the Financial Times.

500,000 is the number of small mobile masts we'd need to deliver 5G in London alone.

"We need to have policies about that reality, not that simply tinker and iterate analogue policy," he said.

"The first 10 years of television was radio in front of the camera. That's exactly where we are in this digital revolution. People are adapting the technology to do what they've always done. The real opportunity is from ground up to re-envisage what the experience should be, what the process should be - that will be the step change."

Dunne also took issue with the "debate" over installing fibre optic broadband cables, calling it "stupid".

"The UK taxpayers have to pay BT for digging holes in the ground, which doesn't make a lot of sense in this day and age," he said, adding that major tech companies such as Google are making strides with wireless broadband instead.

It's an interesting point to make, as there are definitely major advantages to wired broadband: it's capable of much faster speeds and higher bandwidth, and latency is far lower than with wireless broadband. Plus, as ISPReview points out, 5G networks would be partially powered by fibre cables… so a rollout kind of does make sense in this day and age.

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport responded to Dunne's comments, saying, rather blandly: "We are already among the most digitally connected countries in the world with a globally successful digital economy. We will continue to work with leading figures in the industry to develop a digital strategy to help boost growth and productivity and make sure this remains the case."

Source: Financial Times

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