Out-dated planning laws stopping growth of mobile networks


Vodafone networks manager says planning and lack of fibre delay network growth in rural areas

Old-fashioned planning laws and the lack of a BT fibre network is delaying the growth of mobile networks in rural areas, according to Vodafone’s networks manager John McCracken.

Speaking to the operator’s blog, McCracken said building and developing networks in the UK takes far longer than it should due to property laws he claims are outdated.

The blog post detailed Vodafone’s development of a mast on the Scottish Isle of Coll which brought 2G, 3G and 4G services to the remote island for the first time.

“We started off in earnest around about January last year,” McCracken explained.

“So it’s taken us a year to get to where we are now, but like all infrastructure building mobile networks takes longer in the UK than is should often due to out of date planning and property laws and the lack of a BT fibre network in rural areas which we need to use to connect the mast to the rest of our network.

Rural users have often complained about the lack of mobile networks and poor signal, with mobile operators agreeing to a deal last year that will see all four major providers invest £5 billion over the next two years to end “not-spots”.

In the blog, McCracken pointed to the cost of building a new mast as a reason why mobile operators struggle to provide signal in remote locations.

“We were approached by the Scottish government,” McCracken added, “who were looking for a mobile operator to take part in the project. And we agreed that we would partially fund the joint venture.

“In a lot of ways it’s not economically viable for us to build our own mast in this kind of area so from that perspective it requires other parties to come to the table.

“The Scottish Government were keen to address the Isle of Coll and to provide something for the islanders, so they paid for the mast – the structure and power supply – and we provided the electronic equipment and communication links back into the network.”

The Isle of Coll is located off the west cost of Scotland and is home to just 200 people.