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UK set to allow taller phone masts to boost rural coverage

Britain has proposed new rules to help eliminate gaps in rural mobile coverage, including allowing new and existing phone masts to be five metres taller and two metres wider than currently permitted.

It will also on Tuesday publish recommendations to boost the number of network equipment suppliers following last year’s decision to ban China’s Huawei from 5G networks.

The planning reforms will speed up the installation of masts while minimising the number required and making it easier to build slimline ‘monopole’ masts, it said.

Combined with the shared rural network announced by operators last year, the rules will help eliminate mobile blindspots, boosting the rural economy.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “These practical changes strike a careful balance between removing unnecessary barriers holding back better coverage, while making sure we protect our precious landscape.”

The proposals would in unprotected areas allow increases in mast heights up to 25 metres, from 20 metres previously.

But stricter rules would apply in protected areas, including national parks, conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty and world heritage sites, it said.

There will be an eight-week consultation on the proposals, it said.

A separate report from the Telecom Diversification Taskforce to the published on Tuesday included recommendations such as setting out a timetable for the winding down of 2G and 3G networks to support new vendors, and setting up a fund to help develop Open Radio Access Network technology.

The measures are designed to support Britain’s 250 million pound ($350 million) diversification strategy, that aims to reduce a dependence on Huawei’s main rivals Ericsson and Nokia. Reuters

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