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Planning laws 'need overhaul if 5G is to succeed'

Ambitious plans to build smart cities in Britain using 5G technology will be thwarted by obsolete planning laws unless the government takes steps to replace them, according to a  senior telecoms executive.

The outgoing head of O2 Ronan Dunne, who is leaving to head up US firm Verizon Wireless after a decade in his current post, told the Financial Times using "old industrial policy" would not help Britain succeed in the future.

Accusing the government of using "analogue policy", he said: "The first ten 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."

A more innovative and successful way of moving forward would be to copy the likes of Google, which is spreading broadband using wireless technology, rather than fibre optics, he contended.

Mr Dunne said the new Digital Economy Bill was an example of inadequate legislation, as it does speed up planning applications for phone masts, but still falls short of the "radical overhaul" of planning laws that would allow the installation of up to 500,000 new small masts in a city the size of London to properly establish 5G communications and smart city technology.

He concluded by warning that while Britain plays catch-up, other countries like the US will be much more clued up about the right sort of technology to use to prepare for the future.

Mr Dunne is not the only senior official at O2 to express concerns that Britain will be left behind when it comes to 5G.

Chief technology officer at the company Brendan O'Reilly told Computer Weekly last month that the UK's mobile infrastructure needs to be overhauled if it is to have the capacity to cope with the scheduled arrival of 5G in 2019, not least if the current rate of increase in data usage continues.  

Image: iStockphoto/ipopba

Written by Steve Wilkin for Comms ExpressADNFCR-1186-ID-801825478-ADNFCR

Planning laws 'need overhaul if 5G is to succeed' - Article Discussion

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