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Busting barrier busting

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

The term ‘barrier busting’ describes a set of initiatives that public bodies can implement to support the investment case for 5G small cell networks. This article written by Iqbal Singh Bedi and Brad McGuire demystifies barrier busting and explains how public bodies can speed up and improve the investment case for 5G and other networks.

Intelligens Consulting has written previously that although 5G is coming it is no longer the goldrush that many analysts predicted towards the end of the last decade. The bullish predictions around urban densification through the deployment of 5G small cells has not quite materialised in any major UK urban conurbation. And for good reason too. As it currently stands, the lack of demand coupled with high deployment costs fails to make the investment case for densified standalone public 5G small cell networks, and all other forms of connectivity.

From a demand perspective, significant efforts are being made by industry and public bodies to develop compelling 5G centric use cases to stoke demand. From a supply perspective, although the cost of deploying 5G networks will come down over time – as the technology matures thereby improving the investment metrics - public bodies have a crucial role in helping the industry to overcome the challenges faced when deploying small cell networks.

In the UK the term ‘barrier busting’ describes a set of initiatives that public bodies should be implementing in order to help the industry overcome deployment challenges. Public bodies that proactively implement barrier busting can make a significant difference in the investability of a region, which is fundamental to driving future economic growth.

The diagram below shows the key activities involved in barrier busting, which are explained in more detail below.

An asset register records local authority assets that can used for hosting small cell (and other) equipment to facilitate network rollout. The asset register can include a list of publicly owned buildings / rooftops, streetlighting columns, CCTV camera posts, traffic lights, ducting, fibre networks etc.

A single point of entry into public bodies for all telecoms related enquires simplifies the interface with industry. This could involve setting up a dedicated telecoms unit, for example.

Standardising documentation such as wayleaves, asset rental agreements with a consistent payment structure, all in line with the Electronic Communication Code, ensures that enquiries do not require a protracted negotiation for each and every agreement. This approach ensures fair compensation for the use of public assets while providing cost clarity to the telecoms industry to support their investment decisions.

Public sector processes underpin all of the above activities. Streamlining processes to make them fit for purpose can reduce the administrative burden on public bodies as well as significantly decreasing the time to market. These include processes for agreeing asset rentals, signing off wayleaves and route packs, providing access for site visits, surveys and installs and coordinating activities with roads public realm works, for example.

The telecoms industry has been absolutely clear that public bodies are integral to the successful roll out of 5G small cell networks. Without this partnership 5G will be difficult and costly to roll out which risks damaging the potential economic gain and widening the digital divide. It should be incumbent on public bodies to make this happen.

Our consultants can walk public bodies through the process of making this happen; from creating an online asset register, to developing efficient processes and ensuring compliance with telecoms legislation to adopting standardised contracts for use of public asserts. Intelligens Consulting will bring clarity, a defined set of activities and outputs that will create a lasting partnership between your organisation and the telecoms industry.

Intelligens Consulting is an award winning telecoms advisor with a global client base providing investors, operators and policy makers with technical, strategic and commercial advice. Our founder, Iqbal Singh Bedi has advised the Prime Minister and Scotland’s First Minister on telecoms policy and our landmark research has been used to inform the House of Commons and the Scottish Government on 5G policy. Brad McGuire is a senior advisor with Intelligens Consulting and an operational advisor with Infralink.

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