BT says that open access is required to fast track 5G rollout and help to boost coverage for existing 4G networks

BT has appealed to local authorities across the UK to end exclusive concession agreements relating to council owned street furniture, as it looks to streamline its 5G rollout programme.

Local authorities in the UK currently use a concessions model, which grants exclusive access to street furniture to one single mobile network operator. The former UK incumbent is proposing an alternative open access model, which would allow equal access to lampposts and other street furniture for the deployment of small cells.

Under the current system, MNOs who wish to access street furniture must pay a wholesale charge to whichever operator has been granted the concession.

“While the concessions model made sense in the early 2010’s when it first came into common use, the market and regulatory landscape have changed and it’s become clear that exclusivity agreements act as a barrier to further 4G and 5G investments. Government initiatives such as the DCMS Barrier Busting taskforce are showing the way, but we believe that industry needs to act. We are leading the way by handing back exclusivity in nine key areas," said Paul Ceely, director of Network Strategy at BT Group.

“The UK needs an alternative approach which sees industry and local authorities working together to share these street sites in an open and collaborative way. This will create the right environment for long-term investment and innovation in future mobile networks. We believe Open Access will be critical in ensuring the UK has the best mobile infrastructure in place to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading digital economies.”

BT currently has concession agreements in place with local authorities in Glasgow, Cardiff, Brighton, Plymouth, Carlisle, Newcastle, Nottingham, Gloucester and Leicester. However, BT is proposing to rescind these agreements in exchange for open access across the country.

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