Mobile Networks Might Pay Lower Rates, to Encourage Them to Improve Signal in Wales

By Tom Pritchard on at

In an attempt to get mobile networks to improve their infrastructure, and thus improve signal for everyone, the Welsh government is considering cutting rates to give networks more money to invest.

Because of Wales's geography, and the fact that the population is far more spread out, Ofcom has concluded that 64 phone masts are needed to provide mobile coverage to one million people. In England only 12 masts are needed. For that reason the Welsh government are putting together an 'action plan' to ensure more people get the coverage they need.

Currently rates account for around 22 per cent of a mobile mast's running costs, and this new plan id designed to highlight the "positive relationship between telecommunications and the economy".

Also being considered are plans to ease planning restrictions on new phone masts, which would make it easier for networks to build taller phone masts. The taller the mast, the longer the range, and the more people will fall into its catchment area. Part of this includes changes to 'permitted development rights' which fast tracks phone masts up to a certain height. Currently the Welsh height limit is 15 metres, whereas in England it's 25 metres.

Research into this is set to be published this autumn, in time for planing policy updates in Spring.

The new plans aren't going to solve the issue of mobile connectivity in Wales overnight, nor is it going to be the perfect solution, but it is one way of improving the infrastructure. Though the Welsh government did emphasise that it was only a single player, and some of the responsibility also lies with Ofcom. [BBC News]

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