Significant players in the UK’s mobile infrastructure landscape have established a new industry group to represent their interests. This group, dubbed the Mobile Infrastructure Forum (MIF), officially launched and its members include Cellnex UK, Cornerstone, MBNL, and Wireless Infrastructure Group, all of which have extensive mobile infrastructure operations in the UK.
The forum’s main objective is to facilitate the development of advanced mobile infrastructure to enhance wireless connectivity for businesses and the wider society across the UK. By uniting under a single entity, these companies aim to streamline their operations and advocate their interests more effectively.
The MIF outlined several critical objectives, the foremost being the influence on policy and regulatory matters. The group further aims to improve network rollout efficiency in the UK. For instance, it cites the government’s recently introduced Product Security Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Act, which in addition to addressing connected devices, aims to advance the rollout of Gigabit-capable broadband across the country, affecting infrastructure companies and landowners. Moreover, the MIF is committed to facilitating closer relations between landowners and infrastructure providers and will substantially collaborate with UK mobile network operators and their industry body Mobile UK.
As Belinda Fawcett, the chair of the forum and Director of Property & Estates and General Counsel at Cornerstone, said, “The launch of the Mobile Infrastructure Forum is a significant milestone in our efforts to support the delivery of world-class mobile infrastructure throughout the UK. The four organisations are committed to working with our stakeholders to ensure that the UK has the mobile infrastructure it needs to thrive in the digital age.”
Too often, we have heard such declarations from the government and network operators, emphasizing the need for robust telecoms infrastructures in the UK. Indeed, a UK Business and Trade select committee witnessed representatives from Vodafone and Three expressing their support for the proposed merger at the national stage, promising to improve the country’s competitive position vis-a-vis infrastructure.
It’s important to point out that UK’s MNOs, including Three and Vodafone, are part of the new Mobile Infrastructure Forum. The MBNL is a collaborative effort between EE and Three, while Cornerstone is owned by Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone, through Vantage Towers.
While the altruistic motivation of the new alliance serving UK interests may seem questionable, the importance of the alliance cannot be discounted. Neutral hosts and passive infrastructure specialists have become an integral part of mobile network progression recently, and it’s reasonable for these stakeholders to want a stronger voice in policy and regulations.
Despite recent government efforts to reduce planning restrictions for mobile mast construction, network infrastructure builders often face multiple challenges, from locating mast sites, negotiating with landlords, to clearing several planning hurdles. These enterprises are likely hoping that the MIF will lead the way in making their journey smoother.