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5G Will Require Thousands of Sites Hosting New Infrastructure

5G Will Require Thousands of Sites Hosting New Infrastructure

Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) releases Mobile Futures, their inaugural UK Property Telcoms Market report which takes an in-depth look on the issues around the rollout of 5G, the Electronics Communications Code and the shifting balance of power between operators and landowners. Nearly eighteen months on since the new Code came into force, LSH looks at how property owners and landlords can maintain effective telecoms property strategies in the face of recent changes and challenges in the sector.

Mobile technologies are a ubiquitous part of everyday life. As people take for granted the ability to phone, text and browse the web on mobile devices, a vast amount of infrastructure and real estate is required to enable this. New technologies and data-hungry applications will make ever-growing demands on the UK’s telecoms infrastructure.

The new Electronics Communications Code (ECC) was heralded as an important step towards the delivery of a network infrastructure fit for the digital age, in particular by supporting operators rolling out 5G services.

However, research shows the new Code has had a dramatic impact on the relationship between telecoms operators and the landlords who host their equipment. All the signs are that the balance of power has been shifted firmly in the favour of the operators.

GSMA Intelligence forecasts that there will be over 25 billion global mobile connections by 2025, with the increase driven primarily by smart home and smart building technologies. These technologies are pushing an ever-growing volume of data through mobile networks. Ericsson forecasts that global data traffic will increase by 30% per annum over the next five years. Next generation 5G networks are expected to grow from a standing start to account for more than 30% of global data traffic by 2024.

As smartphones become increasingly integral to modern lifestyles, 72% of adults saying that a smartphone is their most important device for accessing the internet. The average time spent online on a smartphone is 2 hours 28 minutes a day, according to an Ofcom survey. Smartphones have driven a huge increase in data consumption; on average, each mobile data connection used 2.9GB per month in 2018, up from just 0.5GB in 2013.

Globally, there are nearly nine billion mobile connections, more than one for every person. Ofcom shows there are around 92 million active mobile subscriptions in the UK. Despite the moderate growth of the number of subscriptions over the last decade, these are now used by 79% of the adult population and by 96% of 16-34 years old.

The emergence of 5G will thus have significant implications for commercial property. It will support the move towards smart buildings, and the use of autonomous technologies such as robots in warehouses. Landlords will need to ensure that their buildings are 5G-ready in order to attract and retain occupiers demanding ever-greater connectivity.

Ultimately, 5G may completely change the way that internet connections are provided in commercial buildings. The extra speed, capacity and latency offered by 5G could see it supersede fixed-line broadband connections.

Mark Walters, Head of Telecoms at LSH commented,

“The increasing importance of digital connectivity, the maturing of 4G and the possibility of widespread 5G has forced an unwelcome but perhaps overdue paradigm shift in how the UK accommodates telecoms infrastructure. Increasingly high demands for connectivity and capacity mean that masts and antennas need to be considered as utilities rather than a commercial opportunity.

“It is clear that the new Code is being used by operators and key infrastructure providers as an opportunity to drive down site costs.”

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